Richmond’s Cow Show Celebrates 100
In an era of modern agriculture, the Internet, and Instagram, there is still an important place for the rich tradition of a cow show. Coming together to celebrate dairy farming, dairy cattle, and connect with old friends is a powerful draw, and this year, the city of Richmond, Utah, and the national dairy industry celebrate 100 years of the Richmond Black and White Days (also known as the Western Spring National Show) – the country’s longest running Western cow show.
In 1915, a group of dairy cow breeders organized an event to celebrate their common interests of dairy farming and dairy cattle. They brought together their best cows to be judged, evaluated, discussed, and admired. The first exhibition took place on March 17, 1915 on the farm of C. Z. Harris in Richmond, and the Harris family is still intimately involved. C. Z. Harris’s great grandson, Craig Harris, is not only still living in Richmond, but he still operates the dairy, Harris Dairyland, and he is the show’s chairman.
In addition to a junior show, heifer show, and cow show, the five-day event included a Future Farmer’s of America judging contest and a cow sale, where breeders prep some of their most desirable animals for a live auction that is streamed online for in-person or virtual bidding. Desirable cow and dairy traits can fetch top dollar.
The show itself is full of history. While it is ultimately a competition, Glen Brown, outgoing president of the Holstein Association USA, feels its a great opportunity to get dairyman together – to talk about their animals and enjoy each other’s company. Ted Papageorge and his family own and operate Pappy’s Farm in Ogden, Utah. They have been showing at Richmond Black & White Days for over 70 years and have had 10 grand champions. This year, Ted and his two daughters both showed animals and performed well. (Watch Lacey Papageorge and Glen Brown talk about the show on ABC4.)
Governor Herbert paid the show a visit Friday morning. He spoke to a group of middle school children about the importance of agriculture in Utah and the importance of getting an education, “If you want a good job, get a good education,” he had them repeat. Agriculture is an essential part of Utah’s thriving economy and dairy is a major contributor. In 2013, milk was valued at $397 million, a state record, and dairy is second only to beef as the state’s top agricultural product.
Though agriculture has changed considerably since 1915 – fewer farms, different farms, new technology, and new products – dairy farmers, their love for their animals, and their desire to celebrate their livelihood remain constant. This past week in Richmond has been a celebration of the past and a look ahead to the future of dairy – all through the elegant beauty of their well-bred bovines.
A Cow Show – Braden Anderson talks about showing cows at last year’s show
What’s it Mean to ‘Show’ A Cow? – Lacey Papageorge explains what showing cows is all about