Every year, for one week in early February, youth who raise livestock and participate in the 4-H & FFA livestock programs in Mississippi head to Jackson for the annual Dixie National Junior Round-Up Livestock Shows. These youth bring show entries from their junior livestock projects to compete for champions of their individual categories.
The Dixie National is the showcase for the 4-H & FFA livestock programs and livestock industry; it is also the site of the largest junior market livestock shows in Mississippi. The Champion and Reserve Champion of the Junior Steer Show, Junior Market Lamb Show, Junior Market Swine Show, Junior Market Goat Show, and Overall Champion Mississippi Bred steer, lamb, and hog are singled out for a special tribute at the Dixie National. The exhibitors purchased many of these animals last spring, and these young exhibitors with champions have worked long and hard to raise their outstanding animals.
First, boys and girls exhibit their animals at one of the five district shows within the State. If they receive a blue ribbon on their animal at the district show, they can then participate in the Dixie National. There were over 1,600 market animals at the five district shows and over 1,100 ended up at the Dixie National Junior Round-Up, from which the champions were selected. These champion animals were sold to the highest bidder at the Sale of Junior Champions auction.
Dairy goats make up a niche market of the Mississippi livestock industry, but their popularity is growing across the state. Interest has grown among 4-H livestock program members, people who participate in various other showmanship contests and people who want goat milk products.
The Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions began in 1969 as a conversation between two Mississippi State University livestock specialists dedicated to building better youth through livestock programs.
On a rainy day in early autumn, hundreds of people packed into the Mississippi State University Joe Bearden Dairy Center to learn where their milk, butter, yogurt, and ice cream come from. (File Photo by Kat Lawrence)
It was inevitable that Lauren Bryant would at least try 4-H.
Her father’s family has been active in the Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H Youth Development Program for two generations. And she has attended 4-H events since she was a toddler.
Now, the 11-year-old is showing her own livestock and participating in various 4-H activities through the Extension Service in Tippah County.
“Lauren is a third-generation 4-H’er,” explained her mother, Leigh Bryant. “Her granddad and her daddy were both 4-H’ers.”
Four generations of 4-H’ers span the century
Mississippi State University Extension celebrated its centennial in 2014. The organization has touched countless lives in the last 100 years, including four generations of 4-H’ers in one family
For the 50th anniversary of the sale, the record-breaking total amount earned was $382,775. While the animals in the sale are impressive, the 4-H’ers are even more astounding.
When FARMtastic makes its rounds over South Mississippi, residents, businesses, schools, and community organizations come together to ensure that participants have a great time.
Greg Chambers is one Mississippi producer who’s focused on innovating. Whether he’s growing soybeans and wheat on his Prentiss County property or raising cattle and goats on other acres, Chambers is always looking for a better, more efficient way of doing things.