on August 1, 2023
By MARCELA JOHNSON
Daily Press Intern
Participants up to age 18 had the chance to show their animals and win awards at the Copper Classic Jackpot held last Friday and Sunday at the Grant County Fairgrounds.
Grant County Extension Agent Jessica Swapp of the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service said that the show allows for practice in a competitive environment before the State Fair.
“We try to have a fun, easygoing jackpot that doesn’t have a plethora of rules and is exhibitor- and family-friendly,” she said. “We try to focus on it being about the kids and their learning and gaining show experience.”
4-H Ambassadors Cayden Lopez and Kayleigh Massengill explained that the event also gives participants the chance to get feedback that will improve the physical state of their animals before the State Fair.
“Kids got to learn more showmanship skills and they got to listen to the judges’ feedback on what their pigs need to improve on,” said Massengill, who is the swine ambassador and has been involved in 4-H for seven years. “There’s different supplements and feeds you can change, and things you can do to help better your animal for a better product.”
Swapp explained that this year her team brought in two judges for the jackpot event. She said that this experience is mutually beneficial as the judges are working on their own livestock sorting skills.
“They did a tandem judging, which is something most youth from here don’t get to experience — but it is something they will run into if they go to the larger, more competitive shows,” Swapp said.
The event included shows for pigs, lambs, goats and cattle, broken into three classes. Classes included novice, for 11-year-olds in fifth grade and younger; juniors, or 11-year-olds in sixth grade through 13-year-olds in seventh grade; and senior, 13-year-olds in eighth grade to 18-year-olds.
The ambassadors also explained that the event allows kids and their families to connect with other participants from across the region, since entry into the jackpot wasn’t restricted to just Grant County.
“They come from Arizona, northern New Mexico, Las Cruces,” Lopez said. “Everybody’s friends, and everybody’s helpful to each other.”
Swapp said that the jackpot is gaining popularity.
“The turnout was really good. It was probably the best turnout we have ever had,” Swapp said. “We had competitors travel from all over the state of New Mexico and Arizona.”
Both ambassadors said that the participants put in many hours in order to get ready for the judging. Lopez said that some families would arrive hours before show time.
“The kids who show animals learn a lot of responsibility in taking care of animals. They’re not just thrown into a pen and just tossed food. It takes a lot of dedication, and work, and bonding with these animals in order to reach this point,” Massengill said.
According to Lopez, winning participants could earn cash, buckles or banners. Swapp said that as the buckles did not arrive on time for the competition this year, they will be mailed out.
“We also order several banners that are awarded during the jackpot with a copper background, and have a really nice-looking backdrop that pays tribute to what Grant County is known for: copper,” Swapp said.
She explained that this year the jackpot added new effects to the shows themselves.
“We did a few new things this year, and we still need to work on perfecting things, but we added a little bit more excitement by using our sound system to play music and having a smoke and light show during the grand drive of the pigs,” Swapp said.
She said that her team does the best they can with their low budget, but that they hope to get more smoke machines and work on their sound system for next year.
Marcela Johnson may be reached at marcela@scdai lypress.com.