From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall

From The Scrap Book 

February 9, 1990

By Dr. Bill Randall 

Cattle Shows & Cow Barns

“There’s No Business Like Show Business” – and I found out a lot about it when I came to Harvey in the mid-50s. For the Jersey farmers of Harvey there was no business like Cattle Show Business. It had made them internationally unique. For years their Production Records (butter fat) and Show Placement in Inter national Fairs like the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, the Atlantic Winter Fair in Halifax, the Chicago Exposition and the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto had given them a highly cherished reputation. It was all new to me, but it was an important event in the community. The local show was held beside the Cattle Barn, opposite the St. Andrew’s United Church. All afternoon, calves, cows and bulls (all registered Jerseys), were brought to the barn and settled comfortably into chosen locations. The next day would be the Calf Club Show and the 4H Club Show. Even the youngsters were caught up in the excitement of the competition. Showman ship, as well as quality animals was rewarded. It was fascinating to see youngsters weighing less than a hundred pounds leading, in precision drills, animals that weighted nearly a ton. The important thing for the exhibitor was to make sure that the Judge saw the animal at its best with the exhibitor as inconspicuous as possible. If a hoof came down on a little tow you maintained your composure.

For me, a stranger to such competitive cattle showing, there were many interesting facets of the showing. One particularly intriguing aspect was the huge tarpaulin that provided private quarters for the mature bulls, and to insure that no over-excited animal would disrupt the atmosphere of a crowded barn.

I was very curious to know why Gilbert Robinson was taking such a quantity of beer and ale behind that tarpaulin. Curious because I was certain that Gilbert was a tee-totaler. Curious because though Banty, Alvin and Eugene may not have been, their comings and goings behind the tarpaulin, as Gilbert’s assistants, seemed in no way affected by the quantity of beer that went in there. Later, in the show, I was to find out that all that beer and ale had been used purely for medicinal purposes for “Really Royal” You think that’s a lot of bull? Campburn Really Royal was a lot of bull, about 1200 pounds worth and boasting a record of at least 29 different Show Championships.

When he came out from behind the tarpaulin his head was held high, his tail was kept low, and his hooves, polished to a jewel-like shimmer – probably by Marlene or Gail – seemed barely to touch the ground, so delicate and elegant was his step. There have been those who have boasted that they would walk as regally if they had consumed buckets full of ale.

That was “showman ship”, in no way improper or unusual, just new to me.

Campburn Really Royal was a. symbol of the quality of Jersey animals raised in the Harvey Jersey Club. Other names remembered and respected were Campburn High Caram, Bramp ton Sixth Generation, Stardust Royal Winsome, Kinghurst Fash ion, Silver Ferns Gem, and if the list continued there would be the Brownlane names, the Longureu names, the Sunny Crest names and many others.

In the 1990s the number of Jersey herds is greatly reduced, the 4H Calf Clubs and  the Harvey Jersey Clubs are almost extinct and the local cattle barn  is almost never used. Perhaps when Edgar Coburn and Charlie Watson ceased to be central entertainers at the cattle barn evening sing-songs, something special was lost from this social event. Or maybe Edgar did dig the fox out of the hole.

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook Vol. One.”

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about the rich history and heritage of the Harvey region? Here are a few blog posts that might pique your interest: