State Fair is a tradition for Teeters
By Steve Huffman
For the Salisbury Post
RALEIGH - Justin Teeter has been coming to the N.C. State Fair about as long as he can remember.
But while others his age trek to the annual extravaganza in Raleigh to splurge on funnel cakes, carnival rides and general good times, Justin, 19, comes to show cattle - the Gelbvieh breed that he and his family raise on their farm in Mount Ulla.
"I started when I was about 4," Justin said. "I've been doing it all my life."
Asked if he enjoyed the labor - including feeding and cleaning up after the mammoth beasts - the teen chuckled.
"You about have to, to do it," Justin said. "Otherwise, it's a lot of work."
Several members of the Teeter family spend the days of the fair in Raleigh tending to and showing cattle. The fair started Oct. 11 and continues through Sunday.
In addition to Justin, the Teeter entourage includes his brothers, Austin, 15, and Garrett, 21, and their father, Walter. Carson Hall, a friend who graduated from West Rowan High School with Justin and who has worked on the Teeters' farm for years, is also spending the week in Raleigh.
Garrett is a student at N.C. State University. Family members are spending the week with him in his apartment. Justin and Carson are students at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
The Teeter family's spread in Mount Ulla is named Green Hills Farm. They farm about 550 acres where they raise 300 heads of cattle. It's a big operation.
Last weekend, the younger Teeters won grand reserve and grand champion when they showed their Gelbviehs in the fair's junior division. The Gelbvieh is one of nine breeds of cattle judged at the fair.
The junior division includes owners and competitors up to the age of 21.
Later in the week, Walter Teeter won grand champion female and reserve grand champion bull in the open division for adult competitors.
Justin and his siblings know plenty about Gelbviehs. They brought 10 of the cattle to Raleigh for competition.
Justin said the Gilbvieh is a breed that was started in Germany in the mid-18th century. While the cows were originally red, they have been bred to be black. They are used primarily for beef production.
Justin said showing at the state fair is good for a number of reasons.
"We want to win, but we also want to get our cattle out there," he said. "This is good advertising."
The Teeters have sold Gelbviehs to buyers across the United States. The better their cattle show at major competitions like the State Fair, Justin said, the more money they fetch on the market.
Justin noted the family sold a show bull two years ago for $6,750. Prize Gelbviehs can sell for anywhere from $3,000 to $40,000.
While they wait to show their cattle, the Teeters have a lot of time to kill in the barn on the grounds of the State Fair. It's rather monotonous, Justin admitted, with plenty of time spent working with the steer.
"We work to keep them clean, to keep them looking good," he said.
The State Fair is one of a handful of competitions where the Teeters show their animals. They also travel to Louisville, Ky., and even as far west as Denver for other shows. Of the State Fair, Justin had only positive things to say.
"It's well run," he said. "It's gotten better."
Ben Carpenter, livestock marketing specialist for the N.C. Department of Agriculture, said about 625 heads of cattle were entered in the fair's junior competition and another 356 entered in the open division. The competition has grown tremendously in recent years, he said.
"It's a year-round process," he said of breeders who bring their animals to the fair. "They have to work it all year."
Neil Bowman, general livestock superintendent for the fair, agreed.
"It was pretty full, let's put it that way," he said of the number of contestants. "All the shows have gone well."