Polk County Livestock Show rewards students' work

Calves and students from across Georgia and Northeast Alabama converged on the Polk County Fairgrounds on Saturday for the 2020 Polk County Livestock Show. With the Polk County Fair canceled for this year, local agriculture groups worked to hold the event separate from the fair.

Polk County’s agricultural heritage was plucked from the fields and barns where it has sheltered in place for most of this year and put in the spotlight Saturday.

The 2020 Polk County Livestock Show welcomed contestants, family and friends — as well as a few dozen heads of cattle — to the Polk County Fairgrounds in Cedartown to see students from near and far exhibit their calves for judging and prizes.

Normally held in conjunction with the Polk County Fair, this year’s show was organized as a separate event after the Cedartown Exchange Club and the Polk County Fair Association announced it would not be having the fair because of concerns about COVID-19.

With permission from the state, Jeannene Powell and Polk County Livestock Promotions got to work putting everything together.

“They let us go with it. We’ve got to keep it going,” Powell said. “We’re excited to be able to have it. We didn’t want to let the kids down.”

Several smaller livestock shows, like Polk County’s, are held at county and regional fairs across the country every year. With the pandemic affecting large gatherings since its start in March, many fairs were canceled and the livestock shows with them.

Saturday’s event was put on by Polk County Livestock Promotions in conjunction with the Polk County Cattlemen’s Association, with Polk County’s Show Team putting in several entries among the 68 calves shown across four divisions.

Powell said they had contestants from several of the surrounding counties as well as some from Perry, Blairsville, Ringgold and Alabama.

Margie Knapek came in from Perry to compete with her European heifer in Division B, where she was named the class and division grand champion by judge Caleb Elrod from Cullman, Alabama.

“A lot of the other shows were canceled because of COVID. I saw this one show up and decided to make the drive,” Knapek said.

The 16-year-old said she got her heifer in late March and has shown in three other shows since then, with the final show being the state competition in February.

The livestock show continues to be a place to highlight the top industry in Polk County.

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