By Tia Lynn Ivey
A special commercial dairy show was held in Morgan County last weekend to honor Dave Clark, a dairyman who passed away in 2019.
The Dave Clark Commercial Dairy Heifer Show, open to youth across the state, was held at the Morgan County Agricultural Center, drawing a large turnout for the event.
“The show was open to everyone in the commercial dairy program in the state and we had 132 calves and 90 exhibitors. It was judged by Mr. Matt Mitchell of Tennessee,” said Carol Williams of the Georgia Dairy Youth Foundation. “Saturday’s show was in honor of the late Dave Clark, a dairyman and strong supporter of dairy programs in the county who passed away in 2019.”
According to Williams, the dairy show has grown over the years to give agriculturally-minded youth the opportunity to compete, and most importantly, learn.
“In some counties, the 4-H and FFA programs have separate teams of commercial dairy heifer exhibitors. Morgan County has combined the programs to work together as one unit,” explained Williams. “FFA teachers, 4-H specialists, volunteer leaders and parents assist the youth in transportation and show organization to keep costs low for the students.”
The idea was hatched in 1996 as a way to give kids who didn’t own their own cows the chance to compete in the dairy competition.
“The Commercial Dairy Heifer Program was established with the idea that dairymen would loan calves to kids, the kids would raise and train the heifer, show her, and return her to the dairymen at the end of the show season,” said Williams.
The dairy competition season has only just begun.
“This year we have 16 exhibitors showing 25 calves. For the first few years of the program there was only one show for commercial dairy calves. The University of Georgia added a show and then other counties started having their own shows,” said Williams. “Now, from January through February there are shows every weekend with the biggest being the State Livestock Show in Perry. This year there are 300 dairy heifers entered.”