The Coos County Fair & Rodeo opened with big crowds Tuesday. While spectators enjoyed carnivals rides, games and food, most of the activity was at the livestock stalls as children prepared for the annual livestock shows.

As dozens of children washed, fed and prepared their animals, Troy Hoffine was gently talking to his steer, Gunpowder.

Hoffine, who came from Coos Bay to the fair in Myrtle Point, has raised cattle for three years and has spent the last year with Gunpowder. The two worked together as the steer grew from a baby to a full-grown adult. The effort was to prepare for the opportunity to do well in Myrtle Point.

"I've worked with him a long time," Hoffine said. "He's one of the tamest animals I've worked with."

Hoffine was preparing to show Gunpowder in showmanship Wednesday, confirmation Thursday and at the livestock auction Saturday. While both were prepared for the show, Hoffine admitted a win was a long shot.

"There's a lot of other animals here that have better confirmation," he said.

Depite acknowledging someone else would likely be crowned grand champion, Hoffine said he has enjoyed working with cattle. Working with an animal that weighs more than 10 times his weight is challenging and fun.

"They can be very friendly, but also very aggressive," Hoffine said.

Even without a win, Hoffine hopes to do well in the auction. He already has plans for the money he makes.

"I'm gonna get a four-wheeler," he said.

After more than a year, Hoffine's work with Gunpowder will end at the fair. But as soon as it ends, he will begin working with another steer to prepare for 2022.

"I have one picked out that's in our herd, but I have not started working with him yet," Hoffine said.

Across the livestock arena, Kaley Chapanar was busy spraying water to keep the dust down near her hogs. Chapanar, who is in her third year in 4-H, brought two hogs to the fair. She said she loves spending time with her pigs.

"They kind of act like dogs," she said. "They have a very good personality. These guys, they follow me around."

Chapanar got her hogs in March and watched them grow from 30 or 40 pounds to 270. But her hogs will not be able to compete for a crown. Hogs are required to increase in size a certain percentage to be in the fair, and Chapanar's largest hog fell one pound short.

The disappointment is just part of the learning process, Chapanar said.

"I learned a lot of responsibility and time management," she said. "You learn the upside and downside of it. Raising livestock is unpredictable. It's definitely a lot of responsibility. You get up every morning at 7 to feed them and feed them again every night."

Getting ready for a livestock show is a lot more than just feeding, though. Across the arena, students were washing, clipping and walking their animals. Chapanar admitted that work was required if one wants to succeed.

"You have to clip them, you have to get all your supplies," she said. "You bathe them every day. It's a lot, but it's super fun."

The fun is why students continue to raise and show animals every year. That, and for Chapanar, one more reason.

"I love them from day one," she said.

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