The occasion’s stalwart volunteer died in August
The late Mark Shuffitt, a longtime county extension agent and supporter of the annual Southeastern Youth Truthful, particularly liked the lamb present.
Will Springer, a pupil at North Marion Excessive College, confirmed lambs within the truthful for years. However this yr, Will, 17, will present a steer. He was specifically chosen for the dignity, and proceeds from the sale of the steer will go to the Southeastern Youth Truthful Mark Shuffitt Scholarship Fund.
The whole truthful, which runs Feb. 15-23 on the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion, 2232 NE Jacksonville Highway, Ocala, is devoted to Shuffitt, who died all of the sudden final August at age 57.
Lori Albritton is an agriscience instructor at North Marion and the senior FFA adviser. She mentioned Terry Teuton, with Teuton Inc., a neighborhood farming operation, provided to donate the steer in Shuffitt’s reminiscence and requested her to discover a pupil to boost, prepare and present the animal.
“They needed a mannequin pupil, and I considered Will instantly,” Albritton mentioned.
The Marion County Cattleman’s Affiliation provided to pay for the feed and different requirements wanted to boost the steer for market.
At first, it was thought the steer could be housed on the college, however since Will’s girlfriend, Halle Luffman, 15, additionally was exhibiting a steer for the primary time, the Luffman household provided to let him increase his steer on their property in Anthony.
“He is over right here on a regular basis anyway,” Halle mentioned with a smile.
Will, a fan of the “Lonesome Dove” guide by Larry McMurtry, which led to a tv collection, named the steers Gus and Woodrow, in honor of the characters performed by Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.
Will is exhibiting Woodrow, a charolais cross, as a part of his involvement in FFA. Halle will present Gus, a brangus cross, for the Kendrick Four-H Membership. Each Will and Halle, who additionally attends North Marion Excessive, will likely be a part of an FFA livestock judging group throughout this yr’s occasion.
Will, as evidenced by an enormous glittering belt buckle, is a nationwide champion in group roping. Halle, who sports activities her personal large buckle, is a veteran barrel racer.
Each teenagers mentioned their fathers had been very concerned in elevating animals for present and sale.
Hayden Luffman, 12, Halle’s brother, a pupil at North Marion Center College, will present a hog named Bullseye at this yr’s truthful. He mentioned hogs aren’t as a lot as work as steers and that his Yorkshire/Hampshire combine pig likes “to run, wallow within the mud and be dealt with, however he is a little bit cussed.”
Jennifer Luffman, the youngsters’s mom, mentioned participation within the youth truthful teaches members a spread of abilities, comparable to caring for and coaching the animal, maintaining with prices and studying what it takes to develop an animal from “small to high quality meat, like offered in a retailer.”
Halle mentioned that her prior years of exhibiting hogs helped her “construct myself up financially to indicate a steer.”
Lots of the college students who present and promote animals use the proceeds to fund their larger training.
Will mentioned he plans to attend the School of Central Florida for 4 years then pursue a grasp’s diploma. He needs to an expert crop advisor. Halle already is pursuing twin enrollment between North Marion and CF subsequent college yr, with a aim of turning into a veterinary technician.
And, ultimately, the scholars know they should say goodbye to the animals they’ve labored so exhausting to boost.
“Everybody is aware of you may’t get too connected as a result of they do go to sale,” Halle mentioned.
Albritton mentioned that along with the scholarship funds funded by the sale of Woodrow, “The Mark Shuffitt Spirit Award will likely be offered yearly. The aim is to financially help a pupil within the 2020 SEYF market animal present with a $300 test for use for the acquisition of the animal, feed, pen or different wanted provides.”
The Southeastern Youth Truthful is the oldest all-youth truthful within the nation with no halfway and the most important all youth truthful occasion within the state. In recent times, there was a fundraising carnival main as much as the truthful.
This yr, the carnival gates will open at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and a couple of p.m. Saturday and Sunday. In response to Denise Deen, president of the truthful, “ticket costs are particular person for rides and video games or college students can get $20 armbands for all you may trip. We’ve got $5 off coupons in our workplace and thru FFA lecturers in any respect faculties and Four-H leaders.”
The steer present was the inspiration of the truthful, which started in 1941. At present’s model of the truthful started in 1978. The occasion contains the present and sale of market animals together with beef heifers, dairy and meat goats, lambs and swine. It additionally contains occasions comparable to a horse present, canine obedience and agility, tractor driving, residence arts and the Watch Me Develop part for youth as younger as age 5.
On Feb. 20-22, the Marion County Farm Bureau will host its annual AgVentures program on the truthful, throughout which greater than 1,000 second-grade college students from private and non-private faculties in Marion County will rotate by 12 stations through which they may be taught things like the place milk, eggs, honey and citrus comes from.
“All presenters and guides are native consultants and volunteer their time to show our children about agriculture in Marion County,” mentioned Amanda Permar, with Marion County Farm Bureau Insurance coverage and the Marion County Farm Bureau Federation.
The truthful itself additionally depends closely on volunteers.
“We’re in a position to present this occasion due to the devoted efforts of our volunteers and the beneficiant donations of native companies and people in our neighborhood,” Deen mentioned.
Jennifer Luffman and Albritton each mentioned Shuffitt was a faithful volunteer.
“He was so devoted,” Luffman mentioned.
When requested what they remembered most about Shuffitt’s involvement, Will and Halle mentioned he was “all the time humorous” and “goofy.”
“He all the time supported the truthful, begin to end,” Albritton mentioned.
Shuffitt is survived by his spouse, Suzanne, and daughters Kate and Sarah. The three of them wrote extensively about him on this yr’s Southeastern Youth Truthful commemorative guide.
“There’s not one other truthful like this wherever”, Mark would say yearly, they wrote, indicating that he could be alluding to, amongst different issues, “the tons of of 1000’s of volunteer hours freely donated, the chance to work with people who unselfishly gave of their time and cooperatively donated their assets, the teamwork between college students, the tutorial parts and the sacrifices of households, mates, membership leaders and lecturers.”
Within the narrative, reflecting on her reminiscence of her dad on the truthful, “I all the time knew the place I may discover him… within the announcer’s field. As a little bit child, it was cool to have the ability to go up there with him,” Kate wrote.
“He was all the time there. After which the following week he’d be sick with the ‘youth truthful crud’ from respiration sawdust for eight days straight,” Sarah famous.
“I admired Mark’s persistence and sacrifice. Again within the good ol’ days the hog present would finish at 1 or 2 a.m. Then Mark, the committee chairperson and a few others would collect in Mark’s workplace to make the present order. That will take a number of hours. Finally, Mark would make it residence. Collapse. Awake. And repeat,” Suzanne wrote.
“For these of you that don’t know, Mark all of the sudden died on Saturday, August 11, 2018, from a pulmonary embolism (blood clot to his lungs),” Suzanne famous.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Suzanne mentioned she thought Mark would have been “overwhelmed, like he most likely was undeserving of getting the truthful devoted to him.”
However, she added, “he would have been grateful and honored. He could be going again to what he all the time mentioned, that it’s a group effort, with many volunteers and assets cooperating. In any other case, all of that could not occur.”
She additionally mentioned Mark could be proud “that Kate and Sarah are nonetheless concerned. It is a ardour. Youth truthful is a part of our lives.”