Bailey McAlister was busy Thursday morning washing her cattle, getting ready to show them at the Newton County Fair.
For McAlister, showing animals began at an early age.
“Well, the first time my dad brought us to the Ozark Empire Fair in the cattle show,” she said. “We were watching that show and it looked really fun to me. I really thought that it would be really to get into. It is entertaining, hard work and dedication. I thought that it would be really fun. So I asked dad, ‘can I show a cow?’ of course dad said, ‘yes.’ But it turns out, I had already been showing the bucket calves [at the age of 4]. But the beef cows… I just really wanted to get into it. I want to learn and accomplish.”
She started showing beef cattle when she was 9. Now almost 14, she once again excited to show her cattle.
There is a lot of hard work that goes into showing cows and other animals at the fair.
“You have to rinse them twice a day,” she said. “Whenever you are here at the shows, you have to get up really early in the morning if you want to be first in the barn. You go to the wash rack either wash them or rinse them, come back, then you have to blow dry them dry — completely dry — then you have to feed them, which is another thing that you have to do every day — twice a day. And don’t let them get loose.”
Currently, McAlister, of McDonald County, is in a 4-H group.
She said it is a lot of dedication to show animals, but encourages others to get into the fair.
“You have to have some guts,” she said. “Getting up in the morning, doing all of this work, it tires you up in the day, and it is 90 degrees outside, you are going to have to tough through it.”
After graduating from high school, she wants to continue in the animal field by going to Oklahoma State University to become a bovine scientist or veterinarian.
“They research everything just about cattle: birth defects, milk production, what diseases cause, what they do to make cattle do what they do if they have that disease,” McAlister said. “I really enjoy all of the medicine stuff, figuring out what is wrong with them, I really enjoy that. I think that it would be cool to help people figure out what they can do during these diseases. And to figure out cures for diseases that are very hard to cure or are known not to have a cure, which is what I want to help find cures for.”
McAlister said they recently had a heifer at their place come down with a disease that made it lose a lot of weight.
“She lost 200 pounds,” said McAlister. “She is good now, we gave her a lot of medicine, a lot of different stuff. If I can find one cure for medicine, I could help cure all of it in the short amount of time, I think that would be great.”