In Rural America, everyone knows that county fairs are about competition. When you advance to state events, the competition gets more intense. The annual contests for the best breeding bull or market steer can mean long term profit or loss for breeders who produce animals that catch the judge's eye in the show ring or score carcass quality that is higher than others.
For each exhibition, an individual is selected to sort through the exhibitors, bottom to top. When he, or she, finishes the task, there may be many who accept the placings of the judge but only one exhibitor gets the purple ribbon.
Dick Burns, an Angus cattle breeder from Peoria, Illinois, talks with me about how he approaches these high pressure events, evaluates the animals, and sleeps at night after doing so.