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Rice honored to have steer in Governor's Show

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 08/30/2013 12:56 PM

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PARKERSBURG, Iowa — Kassi Rice, 14, says it was an honor to have Gov. Terry Branstad lead her Maine-Anjou steer, Red, in the Governor's Charity Steer Show Saturday at the Iowa State Fair.

She was sponsored by the Iowa Cattlemen's Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

Kassi's parents, Kyle and Mary Rice, and her grandparents Merle and Merna Schrage, all of Parkersburg, were equally honored.

Merle and Merna run 35 to 50 Maine-Anjou cows. They sell club calves as well as breeding stock.

"We try to sell our club calves at a reasonable price," Merle said. "We've had a lot of champions at the county fair level from our herd."

Merle is an insurance adjuster and Merna runs the farm. Kyle works at a bank and Mary for an insurance agency, and they also have cattle. Kassi and her brother, Kolbi, who live a mile from their grandparents, help Merna with chores.

The Governor's Charity Steer Show raises funds for the Ronald McDonald Houses of Iowa located in Sioux City, Des Moines and Iowa City. Celebrities lead the steers, vying for championship designation as well as a showmanship award. Immediately following the competition, the steers are sold at auction.

The Charity Steer Show has generated more than $2 million since its founding in 1983 for the Ronald McDonald Houses, which provide a home away from home for families of children being treated in near-by hospitals.

Kassi said that she and other steer owners got to volunteer at the Des Moines Ronald McDonald House.

Kassi has been showing cattle since she was three and joined 4-H as soon was she was old enough. She also shows Polish rabbits and home improvement and photography projects. She is a member of the Albion Dandy Dozens 4-H Club.

Merna saved a Des Moines Register article from the first time Kassi showed at the Butler County Fair. She was three, and she won a blue showmanship ribbon.

Red is the fifth Schrage steer to be in the Governor's Steer Show. Josh Becker showed a Schrage steer that won the show in 2008. This is the first time that the governor is showing their steer.

"We're really pumped about that," Merle said.

Kassi will be a freshman at Aplington-Parkersburg High School. She starts FFA this fall.

"I raised Red from when he was a little calf," Kassi said. "He's pretty special."

She showed him two times as a calf and then at the Maine-Anjou Nationals in Grand Island, Neb., this summer. He's won first, second or third in his class.

"Doug Bear of the Iowa Beef Industry Council stopped and looked at Red, and he called a couple days later with the news that they wanted my steer," Kassi said. "To get in the show is a once in a lifetime opportunity, to get the governor is even better. I'm very thankful for the opportunity."

Kassi said they start working with their show steers and heifers when they're about three months old, tying them up, washing them and getting them broke to lead. During the winter show animals are rinsed once per week.

"In the summer we rinse and dry them, work their hair and put them in the barn under the fans every morning and night," Kassi said. "We work in the yard on showmanship every night before we take them to the pasture where they spend the night."

Kassi plans to keep showing for the rest of her life.

"Some day I hope to be in the championship drive at nationals," Kassi said. "I've made a lot of friends showing cattle."