Hartsfield Shines at National Competition
A Rector teen was chosen among elite company, recently representing Arkansas in the National Junior Angus Show before a crowd of thousands at the Hale Arena of the American Royal Complex in Kansas City, Mo. Kaylee Hartsfield, the 17-year-old daughter of Gerald and Michelle Hartsfield of Rector, was the sole representative from Arkansas to take part in the national event, earning an Honorable Mention in front of a panel of the industry's biggest sponsors and leaders.
"It was the most nerve-racking thing I've done," Kaylee said of participating in the national show. "I've competed all over, but never in something like this. I was nervous, but it was a lot of fun, too."
Hartsfield, who began showing black angus this year after several years of working with red angus heifers, was asked to take part in the invitation-only event after winning the Showmanship division in the Arkansas Junior Angus Premier Show in early June.
"I couldn't believe they asked me," she said. "I think my jaw hit the ground. I was absolutely honored."
Hartsfield and her parents arrived in Kansas City the day before the show, Monday, July 8. They enjoyed the family-friendly spectacle of the event leading up to Kaylee's show.
"There were so many people there and there was a lot to see and take in," Kaylee said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime event."
Once-in-a-lifetime is a fair assessment, as participants are only invited to be involved one time. For the show, Kaylee and her fellow competitors, a group of 60 comprised of participants ranging from 17 to 21 years of age from each state, drew numbers prior to the show. The numbers corresponded with a particular black angus, as the participants were not allowed to show their own animals, instead using those on hand for the event.
"We drew numbers and then were broken down into groups of 15. You were basically shown to your animal and then walked right in and showed it from there."
The unfamiliarity between shower and their black angus was a difficult hurdle for many presenters, but Hartsfield was able to shine through, receiving a prestigious Honorable Mention.
"It was tough. In a situation like that, you don't have time to get to know the animal and how it will act. You just do what you know how to and follow your instincts."
The outgoing teen also made new friends at the event, meeting presenters from all over the state.
"It's kind of nice to go to something like that and meet people who you have things in common with, even if they live in California, Illinois or wherever. It makes it more fun for everyone to be around people like that in a show like this."
The event was a huge step for Hartsfield, who will be entering her senior year at Rector High School this fall. She is currently looking at colleges, with an eye on studying Animal Sciences. Her involvement at the local, state and now national levels will benefit her as she seeks scholarships for college.
Kaylee is active in numerous organizations, but her love of animals and showing cattle has long been amongst her most active endeavors. She is a member of the Arkansas Junior Cattleman's Association, National Red Angus Association, Arkansas Angus Association and National Angus Association. She has competed in 18 shows since this spring.
"I love it," she said of her schedule. "If I didn't, I wouldn't be doing it because there's so much involved with doing each show.