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Sixth-grader wins award named after late relative

Final days of the Fremont County Fair

Aug 7, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

Sixth-grader wins cow contest award in memory of Bill Bates, his late great-grandfather.

With tears streaming down her cheeks, Mary Bates leaned over and hugged her great-grandson Peyton Rees while giving him an award in memory of her late husband.

"I feel great," Bates said after giving him the award at the Fremont County Fair and Rodeo. "I was just wanting him to get it so bad."

The 11-year-old sixth-grader won the phase-two segment of the Fremont County Cattlemen's commercial cow contest for his work raising a pregnant cow that is also nursing a calf.

After receiving the award Friday under the big-top livestock tent, Peyton said he was "pretty happy," but he knew he was the recipient.

"I seen her walking through the gate and smiling," he said.

The award from great-grandmother to great-grandson spans generations of cattlemen and women in the Bates family.

"Fifty years ago we started out with six kids, and they all completely went through the fair," Mary Bates said. "And now I've got grandkids and great-grandkids going through it."

Darla Griffin, the daughter of Bill and Mary Bates, said the Fremont County Cattlemen

started the commercial cow contest in the early '80s.

When her father, a brand inspector in Lander, died in 2005, her mother decided to donate the awards for the contest's phase one and phase two winners.

"For Daddy, kids were really important," Griffin said. "These cows were all out of Peyton's herd. It's just neat that this kind of happened this way."

The Fremont County Cattlemen started the contest to increase numbers in the fair's breeding beef show, she said. Phase one involves raising a pregnant heifer for the contest, while phase two involves raising both the calf and the pregnant mother.

"That's the whole goal of this contest is for these kids to be building a herd," Griffin said, adding that participants typically start over at phase one with their calf.

"Once they start this program they'll most like continue through their 4-H and FFA years," she said.

The contest teaches participants about raising cattle and keeping accurate records.

"The contestants are required to do a record book" that details all expenses for each animal, Griffin said.

"That, I think, is really important for the kids to realize that it's a lot of dollars just for one animal," she said.

For Peyton, whose parents are David and Kelly Rees, raising cattle is just one activity in his busy young life that also includes baseball, football and wrestling.

"I worked with them all summer -- when we had a break from baseball," he said about his animals.

He would wake up at 6 a.m. and feed his animals, practice for sports and come home and walk the cows, pigs and sheep.

"A lot of work, a lot of structure, a lot of family," Griffin said, giving him a hug.

"That helps the most," Peyton said.

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