When Rachel Garrison was five years old, she loved to go to her grandfather’s farm and “pet” the beef cattle — even if they didn’t return the affection.
Seeing her excitement, Leonard Brinksneader bought his granddaughter a heifer, and helped the Cloverbud show the animal in an open class at the Madison County Fair.
“That’s how I got started,” Garrison, of Mount Sterling, recently recalled. “I fell in love with agriculture immediately.”
Garrison, now 18, was named the 2014 Madison County Fair Queen Sunday evening. The crowning culminates her years participating in 4-H and FFA.
Also recognized were: 2014 Madison County Junior Fair Prince Trenton Engle, 2014 Madison County Junior Fair Princess Cheyenne Young, 2014 Madison County Junior Fair King Grant Johnson, 2014 Madison County Junior Fair Queen Attendant Alicia Ferguson and Laryssa Hedgecock.
No stranger to the fairgrounds, Garrison has been showing Simmental cattle in breed-specific classes and steers since she was old enough to do so. She has won the Simmental division several times in the past, and in 2013 her steer received reserve champion in the market show at the Ohio State Fair.
Last year, she also placed second in showmanship at the county fair, and has placed within the top three several times previously.
For the past three years, Garrison has also been taking swine to the fair. Swine are a bit easier than cattle for Garrison, she said.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she recalled. “They’re a bit of a stress reliever.”
A recent graduate of Madison-Plains High School, Garrison will attend The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute this fall. She will major in agricultural communications and minor in livestock science with a specialization in beef.
She is the daughter of Greg and Jodi Harrison.
Garrison said she is most looking forward to traveling Ohio to advocate for the Madison County Fair. She hopes to make new friends and “take things from different fairs that could possibly be brought back to our fair to better it.”
The best part about participating in the fair, 4-H and FFA are the opportunities the programs allow, she said.
“Opportunities are given throughout the entire time,” she said. “That includes developing skills like leadership, public speaking and time management. And, it will help you make memories and many new friends.”
Her dream job is to travel and advocate for agriculture. Specifically, she wants to work for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association in the youth development department.
“I want to give back to the organizations that helped me find what I wanted to do,” she said. “That’s the best way to give back.”
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.