ENTERPRISE — A chance conversation brought a west side native for her first visit to the Wallowa County Fair as its beef show judge.

Kim Henricks, now of Brawley, Calif., grew up in Western Oregon. She ran the beef show at the Oregon State Fair and has been judging cattle all over the country for about 15 years.

Since the state fair was forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to go all-online this year, Henricks was available to visit Wallowa County.

“I met some people from Wallowa County there and it came up in conversation, so it was my pleasure to come out,” she said Thursday, Aug. 6, before the showmanship portion of the beef show.

In showmanship, “we’re looking at how the kids present the animal and how much work they’ve put into it to really showcase how they can work together as a team,” she said.

Henricks elaborated on another judge’s reference to an animal as the handler’s “partner.”

“That means how well they work together and they really need to be a cohesive unit. I always refer to them as a dance partner, like competitive dance partners or figure skaters, they move as one fluid unit as a team and a pair,” she said. “We look for the same thing with the animals. We look for animal and handler to move in unison, not to be fighting each other, to be a really smooth, fluid force out there and to hit their points. When they stop, we want the animals to look their best and for it to not look laborsome for the showman to do it to just go with a natural, fluid, easy movement.”

Between the morning conformation and market classes and the afternoon showmanship, there were 30 Wallowa County 4-H’ers and FFA club members showing their animals.

“The kids did really well,” she said. “It was a great representation of the industry and their respective breeds.”

Overall, Hendricks was quite satisfied with her experience at the fair.

“It’s a pleasure to be here to be on the east side of the mountains and see what the county has to offer,” she said.

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