At the Fort Worth Stock Show, teen relishes tradition that’s stuck for 3 generations

·2 min read

For probably the only time, before the cows and crowd roll in, all’s quiet in Cattle 2 Friday morning at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

Straw dust hangs in the strips of morning light flowing through the building’s high windows. Clusters of people work to spread bales for the cows.

Near the entrance, where gooseneck trailers line up for drop offs, 17-year-old Ally Reed and her family bustle to get their Holstein and Jersey cows in order. They have the first cluster in the building after being in line two hours.

This year’s the third year that Ally, of Stephenville, has come to Fort Worth for the shows, and this year’s going to be her last. In the junior division, you can only compete until you’re 17.

Sure, maybe she could keep showing after this, she says. But then it becomes about competition, and for her family, it’s never been about that.

Right now is a time to have fun, and carry on a tradition that’s stuck for three generations.

Ally’s grandfather showed, her parents showed, and now Ally shows, and has been since she was 8. Her grandfather owned a dairy farm, and she says she always loved going there. She’ll go with him to sales to pick out the cows they want.

This time around, Ally’s will show her red and white patchwork Holstein yearling, Warrior Tango, who sticks out among a small strip of black and white. After the Fort Worth and Houston shows, Warrior Tango will be given to Ally’s cousins or siblings to show, or maybe even sold to someone else, but the latter’s doubtful.

After all, Warrior Tango’s “a little crazy,” Ally says, and they may be hard pressed to find someone who wants her.

Ally’s favorite part of showing all these years has been the connections she’s made, not just with the people, but with the animals.

“She’s a very crazy cow, so when I can pet her down and calm her down it’s really meaningful to me because I know she’s OK with me and she loves me and she’s very comfortable,” Ally says.

Being involved in something like this brings life lessons, says Ally’s father, Alan Olsen, who once raised beef cattle.

“These kids get up every morning and make sure these animals are fed before they eat,” Olsen said.

To do this takes patience and determination, Ally says. In the midst of people who come for the competition, she stresses the importance of having fun. Even when there isn’t a win involved, it’s nice to see your cow do better than it did the day before.

And after a year off in Fort Worth, Ally’s ready to be back.

“I cannot wait to get in the showroom,” she says.

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