BERRIEN SPRINGS — Showing animals at the Berrien County Youth Fair is a sweet experience for some and a bittersweet experience for others.

“Fair week is fun, but selling them is hard,” said Megan Brunke, 12, who had the grand champion market beef animal this year. “It’s sad to let them go.”

During the large animal auction Friday, her 1,395-pound winner, Bear, was sold for $4.50 a pound, raising her $6,277.50. Last year, the grand champion sold for $3.50 a pound.

Megan, of Eau Claire, is a seventh-grader at Lakeshore Middle School and has been showing at the fair since she was 5. She has shown cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys. She said showing cattle has been her favorite.

Megan said it felt good to win grand champion market beef for the first time earlier this week, though she’s won similar titles before. Over the last seven years, she’s taken home the title of grand champion feeder calf six times.

She said it takes a lot of work to get a grand champion animal.

“I get up at like 5 every morning, get him in the barn and rinse him. Then he goes under fans,” Megan said. “He goes out and comes back in at like 12 at night.”

Megan said she plans to keep showing cattle and pigs as long as she can.

Another one of those longtime fair showers is Kaylee Shuler, 15, who has been competing for 10 years.

This year, just like last year, she won grand champion dairy cow. The cow she shows, June, has been grand champion the last five years.

“It’s nice to know I’ve taken her the last two years, and I enjoy winning because I like winning money and giving it back to people,” said Kaylee, of Baroda. 

A gallon of June’s milk was sold during the auction Friday for $2,240. Fifty percent goes to Kaylee, a soon-to-be sophomore at Bridgman High School, and the other 50 percent goes to the dairy barn. That’s how the barn is maintained each year.

The milk auction is a tradition at the fair, with the gallon arriving via a police escort.

Kaylee said leading up to the fair she had lead practice with her cattle every night for an hour.

“We work over basic things like her walking and setting up, and basic showmanship-type things,” she said. “Then closer to the fair we gather up as a group and start helping everyone get ready for the fair.”

Kaylee said fair week is tiring, but fun.

“It’s being here at 7 in the morning, and then on show day being here at 5 in the morning, and staying until around 11 at night,” she said. “But I enjoy it. I’ve enjoyed it since I was little.”

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