Joining the long line of professional fitters and cattle caretakers at World Dairy Expo was a day to remember for Evan Creek of Hagerstown, Md. “It makes the honor to fit more special in getting to stand among them,” he shared.
The honor mentioned is in memory of a very special dairyman, Duncan Mackenzie, the 1961 Klussendorf winner and a prestigious cattleman. Creek is the 28th awardee and one of the youngest recipients in history to win the Klussendorf-MacKenzie trophy, taking his place among the long list of some of the industry’s top dairy caretakers.
Creek began showing interest in his “dairy-fitting craft” at a young age. A product of the Maryland 4-H program, he remembers wanting to help out with the showstring when he was little.
“My brothers and I used to stand on buckets when we were little so we could reach to clip heads and tops on our yearlings,” he said. “I started doing nightline for several people to get more experience when I was about 15 years old and slowly moved to other jobs as I got better with my clipping.”
Creek’s experience in the state’s 4-H program was a positive one. “Maryland’s program stresses doing all of the fitting and animal preparation yourself,” he explained. “It is a very strong, very competitive program and has produced many great fitters as well as judges.
“Showing in Maryland is very competitive, but it’s also a great place to learn. The people involved with showing dairy animals are very supportive of the youth programs,” he continued.
Creek’s family has also been showing for generations, working together to prepare animals for the ring. The Palmyra herd has produced some exceptional Ayrshires, one of the most notable being Palmyra Berkely P Ruth-ET, who successfully defended her 2017 title as Grand Champion of the International Ayrshire Show at World Dairy Expo last year. The Creek family also took home banners for 2018 World Dairy Expo Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor.
The Palmyra prefix has been notable within the A.I. industry, too. Breeding one of the breed’s reigning Premier Sires of both the heifer and cow shows at World Dairy Expo, Palmyra Tri-Star Burdette-ET, was another accomplishment of Creek’s.
“My brothers, sister, cousins, and I are the fourth generation to work with our Ayrshires,” Creek said. “We have had many All-Americans and have been Premier Breeder and Exhibitor at Maryland State Fair, the Mid-Atlantic National, Southern National, and World Dairy Expo many times.” Creek stated that his family enjoys showing for the competition and friendships, but it is also part of their business.
Speaking of business, Creek has had the pleasure of working for many people and farms growing up. “Most of the ones I started to work with were very helpful and supportive and did a lot to teach me,” he shared. Creek has worked with MD-Maple-Dell, Triple-T, Arethusa, Kueffner, Sherona Hill, Glamourview, Windy-Knoll-View, Waverly, Snider Homestead, Duckett, Gil-Tex, Oakfield Corners, River Valley, MD-Hillbrook, Morrell, Pappy’s, VanExel, Elite, and Spungold Holsteins, to name a few.
“My work varies from one year to the next,” he elaborated. “On average, I probably do six to eight sales and 10 to 12 shows a year.” He claims World Dairy Expo to be a favorite, but he usually enjoys every job he works.
Graduated early to work
Creek feels that a strong work ethic is what placed him on the path to business success. “I do not think I work that much harder than any of the other dairy fitters,” he shared. “I did have a different work ethic than the kids I went to school with.”
Creek elaborated, “I missed 28 days in the fall of my senior year so I could work shows and sales, and I had already ordered my trailer by that time.”
Creek completed all of his graduation requirements by the end of his first semester so he could graduate high school early to travel more often.
His advice to youth wanting to make a career choice out of cattle care and fitting is to ask questions and watch the professionals whenever the opportunity arises.
“My parents would send us (Creek and his siblings) out and tell us to watch certain people so we could learn how to do what they were doing, whether it was clipping or showing or washing animals,” Creek explained.
“Practice clipping all of the time. It will help you to be quick and learn how to hold clippers, to get them to do what you want when needed,” he continued.
He also emphasized that a true fitter and showman will be able to recognize the type characteristics of the animals you are working with so you can learn how to make them look their best.
Creek’s future plans involve continuing to work on his craft. He is interested in marketing his own cattle, too. “I’d like to spend a bit more time helping to develop and market our own cattle. However, I will probably continue to do what I have been doing for a while yet,” he shared.