Showdown in the Hills is a cattle show located at the Jackson County Junior Fairgrounds on the second Saturday in July, the last four years.
Started by Jacob Kay, a 2015 graduate of Ripley High School, who wanted to be able to encourage youth to participate in the cattle show industry, the event averages between 30-50 showmen each year.
“I showed cattle a little bit through the Jackson County Junior Fair and was pretty successful,” Kay said. “I started taking my calves elsewhere outside of just the county, to neighboring states, and throughout West Virginia. I got a bigger and better experience by doing that and I wanted to share with other kids in Jackson County that there was more to the cattle industry than just what is done at the JCJF.”
Kay hosts fundraisers throughout the year and says the event would not be possible without the help of the community and the wonderful sponsors that allow him to continue with the event.
This year’s event brought in calves from West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia. Calves were registered in one of three divisions; Feeder Steer, Feeder Heifer, and Breeding Heifer. First place in each division won $275, second place or reserve were awarded $150, and third place received customized tumblers.
Showmanship classes were broken down into 0-8 years of age, 9-15 years of age, and 16-21 years of age. Monetary awards were presented for showmanship based upon the number of entries per category.
Showdown in the Hills allows kids to see how to show animals in the ring as well as giving them opportunities for social networking.
According to a study aimed at validating the benefits of competitive youth livestock exhibition conducted at Texas Tech University; social relationships, character, family togetherness, exposure to competition, exposure to cultures, and knowledge and care of animals were the top benefits gained from showing livestock as a youth.
The study concluded that the most important life skill developed through the exhibition of livestock by 4-H and FFA youth, was social relations.
Kay said his goal has always been to provide youth with show ring experience and allow them to make industry connections that they can use to further their careers in the cattle industry.
Since receiving his Bachelors Degree in Animal and Nutritional Sciences from WVU, Kay has gone on to Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine where he is currently a second-year veterinary student.
With his busy schedule and career path underway, Kay is sad to say he may not be able to be at the 2020 Showdown in the Hills, but he feels confident in his family and friends that can carry on the tradition.