We dealt with this issue at the State Fair level last year, here was my response on the issue, I took the names out but you get the point.
Here is the issue I have with allowing family members and if someone can explain why this is ok to me that would be great. Why is it ok for ___, ___,____, ____ or ____ to fit for exhibitors at the show, but they can’t fit for anyone outside of their own family? ____ can fit circles around ____, a 1st year kid that was at the State Fair and could really have used some help, he was there with his parents and they don’t really have a clue, but no one is allowed to help them, ____ were set up right next to them, they would have been more than happy to help out, but ____ couldn’t touch the animal. Why are ____, or anyone else at the show that doesn’t happen to have a brother or parent that is a professional fitter not allowed assistance? I guess in my opinion if you change the rule to include anyone other than the exhibitors, the people included that are legally fitting as a helper, relative, or whatever at that show, should be able to help anyone that asks for help at that show.
A no fit show is enforceable and fair, most of the calves at the top of the class are all determined by the work done at home. I believe this type of show gives the most even playing field for everyone, because it takes years to develop fitting skills, but anyone can work the hair at home. The down side to a no fit show is that you end up with a bunch of crappy looking pictures to represent your State Fair winners.
The 4 or 5 options you give have no leeway for the kid that doesn’t have immediate family or advisors with an interest in showing, I’ll use our family as an example. Jill grew up in Mission, KS, a suburb of Kansas City, there was no farm ground, no cows, no 4-H program, Earl grew up in Gardner, was very active in 4-H, but never showed cattle. As our Nieces and Nephews got to be 4-H age, we gave them the option of showing cattle. We paid for the animals, feed, supplies, and hauled them around. Tony was one that wanted to show, and was reserve champion steer at the Kansas State Fair in 2001, the fitting rules were there at the time, but were not enforced, had the “only immediate family rules been enforced” Tony would not have been able to show at this State Fair. Tony did not have parents interested in showing cattle, I can count on one hand the number of shows they attended, he didn’t have friends that showed cattle, he lives in Johnson County, KS where there is currently no FFA program in Gardner, there is currently no 4-H agent (we now have 2) and the one that just left only knew horses, and the Ag agent came from the state parks department, no ag background at all. Tony is no longer an exhibitor at this show, the way this rule is being interpreted, we couldn’t have helped Tony, and Tony can’t come back and help Logan. I think that the 4-H/beef program gave Tony the opportunity to accomplish a lot in his formative years, it bolstered his confidence and self esteem, and he gained a lot of life skills that will help him to excel in other areas in life, and I think it would be an absolute shame to exclude these kids. Johnson County had 22 youth that exhibited at the county fair last year, of those 0 have families that raise cattle for a living, 1 had parents that showed cattle in 4-H. When you are making fitting rules, please remember that you are making them to fit the entire state, not just the more rural parts where farming is a way of life, not everyone has family member with past experience, they need outside help from somewhere.
I believe everyone knows we are for an open show that allows anyone to fit, not everyone agrees with that, but we have to come up with a solution that is both enforceable and fair. I think in the final analysis you can make rules until the cows come home, they keep the honest people honest and the rest will continue as they always have, it doesn’t change the outcome.