High Prairie hosts 15th annual Peace Country Beef Congress

Rotation Annual event is moved around each year to a different town to maximize exposure

Organizers of the Peace Country Beef Congress (PCBC) demonstrated years of experience, excellent judging, and the ability to host another successful show during the 2013 Beef Congress, which was held recently in High Prairie. From the buff bulls to the heartiest heifers and the strongest steers, there was a sense of excitement amongst the competitors as they carefully coiffed their cattle, trying to impress the judges with their animals’ conformation and overall appearance.

Impress they did, especially Willow Creek Simmentals, which took away the most titles over the two days, including the Grand and Grand Reserve Champion for their pen of three bulls, as well as the Grand and Grand Reserve Champion for the Cattleman’s Choice Bull.

PCBC president Danny Waluk said he was impressed with the turnout at this year’s show.

“Sometimes these shows really depend on the weather,” he said, “but we were fortunate this year. Overall, we had a really good show. There was a strong showing from the competitors. We saw some really remarkable animals. We also had an excellent turnout of exhibitors and we thank all of them for their continued support.”

4-H participation

One of the highlights of the show is the chance for 4-H clubs to bring in their projects and have them professionally judged. Members of the clubs get a chance to participate in a professional show for the first time, as they take their animals through the ring in front of a large crowd of spectators. They are also given a seminar on exactly what the judges are looking for, and then asked to judge several cattle themselves and compare notes with the real judge.

“We learned a lot,” said 16-year-old Jess Verstappen, a member of the Coyote Acre 4-H Club out of High Prairie. “They teach a lot of this in 4-H, but to be able to come to a show like this and then use their techniques to place cattle and see how our marks line up with the judges is an excellent experience.”

In addition to the judging, Mel Hyland offered up tips on how to communicate with horses, while Alberta Beef Producers director Roland Cailliau spoke about the 2013 market outlook.

“Everything we are told about our prospects in the cattle industry is that we are looking at excellent prospects for the next four to eight years,” Cailliau said. “Cow numbers are down in Canada, the U.S., South America, and other parts of the world. Demand for protein is up and beef is part of that. That is the simple equation. High demand, relatively low supply.” He concluded by saying the cow-calf business in the Peace Country appears to be at the beginning of several years of profitability and producers are in an excellent spot to “reap the rewards.”

Continued success

This was the 15th year the PCBC has held its annual event. Back in 1998, the first Peace Country Beef Congress was held in Fairview, when Peace Country cattlemen wanted to showcase the quality of the cattle they raised. Government funding was arranged for the first few shows, but the success of the shows soon attracted sponsors, making the show self-sufficient.

At one point, the show became so successful, the decision was made to move to Grande Prairie to secure a larger venue; later on High Prairie was added. Nine years ago, when the Encana Centre was built in Dawson Creek, B.C., it was added into the rotation. Now each town hosts the event every third year.

This gives many producers the opportunity to get their cattle judged. In the Peace Country, one of the three towns is always conveniently located. And although the congress gets national sponsors, moving between towns gives local businesses the chance to get their names out to everyone who arrives from the large number of surrounding communities.

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