The author farms with her husband and his parents at Ryan-Vu Holsteins, an 80-cow dairy in Fond du Lac, Wis.
While most people watching the dairy cattle shows the week of World Dairy Expo are focused on the animals or the judge, there are some other very important individuals assisting in the showring to ensure that the big dance runs smoothly.
Although they go unnoticed by most, these seasoned professionals work as ring attendants and play a major role in running the show efficiently. Three of these long-time volunteers share their insights in this roundtable on directing cattle traffic at the biggest show in the world.
Ron Mosser is a senior appraiser with the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA)/area representative for the Jersey Marketing Service and North American Area Representative. He has been a Jersey ringman for 10 years.
Jon Powers raises Holstein heifers on his registered Holstein farm, Powers Haven Holsteins, in Columbus, Wis. He has served as an Ayrshire ringman for 15 years.
Bob Hagenow is a sales manager for Vita Plus Corporation in Madison, Wis. He also serves on the World Dairy Expo Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. He is currently a ringman for the Holstein and Brown Swiss shows and has held that position for the past 30 years.
1) How did this volunteer opportunity become available to you?
Mosser: I started when George Barlass decided to retire from this position.
Powers: I was serving on the Dodge County Holstein Board, and Bob Kaiser, the Ayrshire Show superintendent, asked if I would be interested in becoming a ringman because the current volunteer was retiring.
Hagenow: Merle Howard asked me to step in as ringman for Holsteins in 1988.
2) What is most enjoyable about your job?
Mosser: I showed cattle at World Dairy Expo up until 15 years ago when I started working with AJCA. Now, this is a great way for me to stay in contact with all my show friends, while helping execute one of the best shows in the world.
Powers: The view from the center of the ring is incredible. It is a great seat for watching a great show. I also enjoy interacting with and seeing all the exhibitors that I have gotten to know.
Hagenow: I enjoy being a small part of presenting the best dairy cattle in the world and helping facilitate the process for the judge. I also like working with the exhibitors and setting up square lines for the cameras and spectators.
3) What do you find most challenging?
Mosser: You are working on an extremely tight schedule as you are moving cattle in and around the ring, and sometimes you get a bit cramped on space. As a 50-year exhibitor and a four-time judge, I understand the importance of making everything work as smoothly as possible. Expo has always been a special place to show, and I like to do everything to keep it that way.
Powers: For me, the most challenging part of the job is standing all day.
Hagenow: As the show and the animals have gotten bigger, maintaining good presentation of all animals is huge as everyone deserves to get a fair look. Keeping all the exhibitors on a fair playing field, while keeping the show moving, can sometimes present a challenge.
4) How have you seen the show evolve over the years?
Mosser: The evolution of the show has been tremendous as World Dairy Expo and the Jersey breed have both grown over time. The Jersey show used to be 100 to 150 head, and today it is close to 350. Expo is a tool that offers great exposure for the breeders around the world. I have judged in 10 other countries, and people always see the value of coming to World Dairy Expo.
Powers: The show has gotten better over the years, especially the past five to 10 years. The quality has improved and the numbers have continually grown, in fact so much so that last year, Expo staff added an extra ringman to assist me as needed during the show.
Hagenow: Some classes have been added over the years, and it takes extra time and commitment from all volunteers and staff to make them happen. I have also seen more junior participation, especially in the Brown Swiss Show.
The pageantry of the Supreme Champion has also evolved and changing it to Saturday has been good, but it makes it even more important for the Holstein show to run efficiently to accommodate the start time.
5) What are some things you have learned?
Mosser: You observe things differently as a leadsman when you are trying to present your animal to the best of your ability, and you may not always be courteous to other exhibitors. I’ve learned that everyone deserves the opportunity to show to the best of their ability, and as a ringman, I work to help give everyone a fair shot as I know they have all worked hard to get there regardless of whether they are first or 25th.
Powers: I have learned that communication with the exhibitors is important to keep the show running smoothly. I try to talk to them all to make sure they exit the ring in an orderly fashion to keep the show moving.
Hagenow: I have learned many things along the way. All the shows at Expo are really, really good shows and among those shows, there is a great camaraderie between exhibitors. All of the judges take their responsibilities very seriously, while being in the spotlight and want to do a good job. Finally, I’ve learned some of the best ways to help the staff run the show smoothly and what makes exhibitors feel comfortable and good about their placings.
6) What advice would you offer to those ringside or exhibiting in the show?
Mosser: I have always said I was a lot smarter standing along the ringside than I was in the middle of the ring. On ringside, you don’t have to place them from one to 30, and you are not in the same position to see what those inside the ring see.
Observers should appreciate and understand that those in the ring were asked to give their opinion, and they should listen to the reasons to learn what is important to the judge. I also enjoy enthusiasm from the audience when a favorite cow or exhibitor wins. Making a little noise really adds to the atmosphere.
Powers: While I don’t have any real advice for those ringside, I advise exhibitors to listen to your ringman as they are trying to keep things as organized as possible for the show in order to help things move efficiently.
Hagenow: For those along the ringside, I say enjoy the show, realize that the judge is doing their job, and it is important to win with dignity and lose with grace. As an exhibitor, it is important to be on time and do the proper ethical and professional things when showing to preserve the integrity and experience of the show.
7) What are the keys to making the show run smoothly inside the ring?
Mosser: It takes a big team effort to keep the show on time, from checking in, to entering the ring, to moving the cattle smoothly and quickly around the ring. My job focuses primarily on keeping it moving, but also filling the gaps to make it easier for exhibitors and judges.
Powers: Teamwork is the key to a smooth-running show. From having all the animals checked in correctly, to them entering in order, to keeping them moving in the ring; it all contributes to making the judge’s job easier.
Hagenow: It is definitely a team effort from myself, the superintendents, and volunteers to get the cattle in the ring; to assisting the judge to see the cattle in the best way; to getting people in straight lines; and to using every inch of the ring possible to help all exhibitors get the best look possible. We all play a part in making it a great show, and I look forward to being a part of it each and every year.
8) Why have you chosen to do this for so many years?
Mosser: For me, it has always been the people that make it special. When you’re in love with dairy cows and it’s a lifestyle you pay dearly for, you appreciate the opportunities to exhibit and make the most of them.
Powers: I truly enjoy it. I love the people and the cows, but especially the exhibitors. I have gotten to know them over the years and enjoy seeing them each year.
Hagenow: Along with having an interest in watching the show, I take great pride in being a small part of making it the best show in the world. It is just something that I do, and I hope in the end that I am adding value to the show.