17th Belt Buckle Classic held at Tom Harbin Ag Center

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

The Crenshaw County Junior Cattleman’s Association hosted the Belt Buckle Class, a Beyond the Ring Junior Livestock Association-sanctioned show, on Saturday at the Tom Harbin Ag Center.

Individuals affiliated with 4-H, Future Farmers of America, and Junior Cattlemen’s members from any state through age 21 participated in the event.

After over a decade of not having a local show, the Belt Buckle Classic was revived as an annual event in January 2011. In 2019, after many shows folded and exhibitors were looking for opportunities to get their projects out of the barn, the Crenshaw County Junior Cattlemen’s Association began hosting a June show as well, making the Belt Buckle Classic a biannual event.

The Winter 2023 Belt Buckle Classic marked the event’s 17th show, drawing exhibitors from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

According to Ashley Catrett, event organizer, the show has seen tremendous growth.

“The show has grown so much, we’ve had to start setting a cap of 200 head due to the huge response,” Catrett said. “The Belt Buckle Classic is one of the largest shows in Alabama and has proven to be an exhibitor and industry favorite throughout the Southeast. The immediate area and larger region benefit from those who stay overnight, eat in local restaurants and invest in our region as they travel to attend this event.”

“We pride ourselves in representing ideals of Friendliest City and good, old southern hospitality. With growth, we’ve been able to help provide financial assistance for youth livestock events and other shows throughout Alabama as well as provide scholarships to local youth. The young people who devote countless hours to livestock projects are some of the most disciplined, hardest working individuals around. The show is always open and free to the public and we’d love to have more local spectators next year.”

Paislee and Paxton Smith, the 5- and 2-year old children of Patrick and Paige Smith, of Brantley, both showed their baby calf Brownie that they have been bottle feeding for the past two months in the Pee Wee showmanship division. The show was Paxton’s first and Paislee’s second. They each won a belt buckle for participating.

Mykenna Nettles, a senior at Perry High in Perry, Georgia, and FFA member, was the Winter Belt Buckle Classic Showmanship Grand Champion. As a back-to-back winner, her efforts Saturday brings her Belt Buckle Classic buckle total to four.

Mykenna’s father, Andrew, said the Belt Buckle Classic is Mykenna’s favorite show and added the event has played a large role in what is to be his daughter’s future.

“The Belt Buckle Classic really kicked off a whirlwind of wins/titles for my daughter and it is a show we would never miss,” Andrews said. “These shows give them the opportunity to showcase the work they’ve put in and get some sense of direction on what they need to focus on going forward from judges who have seen it all. Mykenna has now been accepted to several colleges and universities, and plans to pursue a career in agricultural communications. So I’m extremely grateful for the show, the great folks who put it on and the city of Luverne for always welcoming us.”

“They’ve all played a part in aiming my daughter towards her future. No show that we go to gives as much opportunity for a nice prize to these show kids as The Belt Buckle Classic does. 15 Buckles, plaques, Show Coat swag bags, Sullivan comb sets and Pee Wee buckles for all the little show kids. Every kid got a new rope halter when they left the ring, plus a free lunch, and they do it twice a year. A tremendous job is always done by the Catrett Family and the Crenshaw County Junior Cattlemen’s Association to gather sponsors, put this thing together and pull it all off.”

Allyson Trimble, originally from Okeechobee, Florida, where she grew up on her family’s small cow-calf operation, served as the judge.

Trimble, an active member of 4-H and FFA during her childhood, began judging and showing livestock at a young age.

She obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Florida. She continues to raise and exhibit Registered Brahman Cattle with her family and travels the state sorting livestock shows.
Trimble currently resides in Gainesville, Florida, where she works for the University of Florida as the Academic Programs Specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences and coaches the Intercollegiate Livestock Judging team.