Rich family tradition keeps agriculture shows alive at SEMO District Fair

A tradition as rich as these Belgian draft horses are strong.

When you think fair, like the SEMO District Fair, what things come to mind?

We bet you’re saying funnel cakes, carnival rides, and live entertainment.

But did you know the SEMO District Fair began as a showcase of farmer’s crops and livestock?

draft horsesIt served as a way to bring folks together for some fun and healthy competition.

164 years later, the ag shows are still strong as ever.

In fact, there are more than 40 divisions of agriculture competitions at the fair.

Farmers and prospective farmers aim to show off the best they have in a series of competitions involving animals like cattle, chickens, rabbits, and even guinea pigs.

Steve Birk is on the fair board and says the showcases are a great way for the public to appreciate a side of agriculture most don’t see.

“It’s waht feeds the world and it’s interesting, see these animals,” Birk said. “We’re trying to feed the world and give them an education of where it comes from.”

Heartland Weekend caught up with one family from New Hamburg who has been showing Belgian draft horses at the fair generation after generation.

Brian Heuring, a veterinarian at Cape Small Animal Clinic, says it started with his grandpa.

Belgian draft horses are known for their hard working abilities. His grandpa used them on the farm.

“We used the horses to rake hay, to haul manure,” Heuring explained.

Heuring remembers when some of his buddies might’ve been off playing ball, he’d be at home feeding and taking care of the horses.

At that age, he thought he’d never own horses.

But you could say it’s in his blood.

“No matter how hard I try to get away from it, it’s what makes me go.”

That passion for agriculture and the rich family tradition combine at the SEMO District Fair each year.

Competitors from all over compete with one another for the title of best in show.draft horses

“Of all the trophies that we have won over the last few years, the one that I am probably the most proud of is the one my dad won in 1982 that came from here,” Heuring said.

This year, Heuring helped his daughter compete for the first time at the SEMO District Fair.

He says she’s taking a liking to it.

“My grandpa did it, my dad did it, and here I am with my kids doing it, without a doubt a family tradition,” Heuring said with a smile, oozing with passion.