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Nothing really changes

By Jennifer M. Latzke

Every spring I go home to Dickinson County, Kan., and announce the spring steer show. It’s my way of giving back as a former 4-Her. Plus, it’s how I keep in touch with my roots back home.

This past weekend as I sat up in the announcer’s stand behind the mic, I looked around and realized that fitting techniques and cattle might change, but some things don’t change.

All around the ring you can practically tell 4-H club membership by where parents and grandparents choose to sit in the stands—Jolly Jayhawkers here, Willowdale there, Mount Ayr over there and so on.

Over in the southwest corner of the arena were the same two moms—now grandmas—from the same 4-H club who have sat in those same seats since their own children were showing cattle together. Now they take pictures of their grandchildren in the ring. Their husbands are back in the same side of the same cattle barn with their sons and grandchildren around the same fitting chutes, sharing the same advice. Only the steers have changed.

I had to catch myself from calling the grandson by his father’s name because he looks just like his daddy did 20 years ago in that same show ring.

Just outside of the gate was the daughter of one of the beef superintendents, lining up classes just like her father used to do. She may be grown and off on her own, but I still see her as this blond little girl pulling a big old steer through the ring with such concentration that you swore she’d stare a hole right through that judge.

Her dad is in the ring with his co-superintendent. The two men have a lifetime of friendship from raising kids and cattle in the 4-H program. They have this easy camaraderie that they’ve developed over years of twisting tails, lining up kids and cattle, scooping manure and running class after class through the ring.

By my side in the announcer stand is that co-superintendent’s daughter who’s grown now, but she’s back home and helping out with the show. She once was my blond shadow around the fairgrounds, but now she’s this responsible young woman inputting show results into a computer. I have to remind myself that she’s grown-up now when all I can remember is the weekend she came and stayed with me at my sorority at K-State for her 10th birthday.

Our ribbon presenters include the teenage fair queen and king from last year’s fair and their attendants. I look at our young queen and I seem to remember her mom in the same sash 20 years ago handing me blue ribbons in the same show ring. Someday, far into the future, maybe her daughter will wear the sash too.

Yep, from my vantage point at the announcer’s stand I see it all and I’m reminded that home isn’t a location. Your history isn’t found in books and genealogy charts. The lessons that stay with us aren’t always on the tests.

Life moves on. Styles evolve. Technology advances us. But, if you’re lucky, you see that nothing really changes.

And that’s pretty OK in my book.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or

Date: 4/15/2013


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