Williford takes first at Georgia Invitational Livestock Heifer Show

Sep. 25—THOMASVILLE- Thomas County Middle School student Karlee Williford recently won the Southwest Georgia Invitational Livestock Heifer Show, despite it being her first year of competition.

Williford said she started showing heifers for fun after both of her older brothers joined the Thomas County Junior Livestock Association and began showing steers.

"When they started showing, I wanted to," she said.

However, Williford quickly learned it was no easy task, as heifers must be worked with daily in order for them to perform at their best level during competition.

During the show, the heifer must be set up correctly before being backed down.

Williford said she spends approximately two hours a day with her heifer, Buttercup.

"I walk her and wash her, then I comb her," she explained. "You want to practice at home exactly what you would do at the show."

Training Buttercup has been a new experience for not only Williford, but her family as well, as her brothers have only shown steers.

Williford was able to find her heifer through the help of the Thomas County Junior Livestock Association.

Her mother, Danielle, explained when kids join they don't have to have an animal.

"That's what the Thomas County Junior Livestock Association is for, it's to get the community to come show either a steer, heifer or a hog. They help you find what you're looking for," she said. "You go out there and pick one out and break it yourself."

When training her heifer, Williford has to focus on both her showmanship skills and Buttercup's weight class.

"Showmanship focuses on the kid, not the cow," Danielle shared. "Weight class just judges the cow."

Williford took home first in weight class, while placing second in showmanship.

With one belt buckle under her belt, Williford will now compete at the Georgia National Fair, where she fully expects the competition to be much more stiff.

Williford anticipates competing against approximately 100 other students her age for the title.

While the title doesn't allow Williford to compete at any additional competitions, it will reward her monetarily.

The Georgia National Fair differs from Williford's previous competition, which only provided winners with belt buckles, which Williford said is something everyone looks forward to getting.

"Kids would rather have belt buckles than money," Danielle said. "It was a big competition, because her brother has never won a belt buckle."

Danielle highly encourages other kids to participate and go after a belt buckle of their own.

"It's great for kids and teaches them responsibility," she said. "They have to take care of something all on their own."

While the Thomas County Junior Livestock Association has already had their first meeting of the year, the opportunity to join and begin showing are still available.

The Association is currently helping those interested in showing pigs, find them. Everyone who would like to participate must have their pig by November 19, where it will be weighed and tagged. To contact them, email tcjrlivestockassoc@gmail.com.