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Blackburn receives grand champion honors

Thirteen-year-old Matt Blackburn, son of Phil and Kathy Blackburn, formerly of Georgiana, was named the 2002 Grand Champion Steer, Champion Heavyweight Steer, Alabama Bred Grand Champion and Champion Alabama Bred Heavyweight Steer winner at the 2002 State Steer Show in Montgomery in March.

Blackburn is also the grandson of Allen and Eddie Belle Blackburn of Shackleville and Earl and Mary Ann Bozeman of Industry. According to Blackburn's mother, Kathy, he is only the third rookie that has won since the state steer show was first held.

She said he had been wanting for a while to start showing steers but that he just got involved in the competition last year when his parents bought him his first steer. That steer, "Buck," is this year's Alabama Cattle Association grand champion steer.

Mrs. Blackburn said "Buck" was an 18-month old three-way-cross Maine-Chi-Angus that was fathered by an Akeem bull sire.

She said "Buck" was sent to slaughter shortly after the competition because "he was getting an attitude and getting a little hard to handle."

Blackburn said her son understood that "Buck" would have to go to slaughter because "that's just part of the showing, knowing they are only good for slaughter."

She said Matt now has a heifer that he will be able to keep after competitions. He also has another cow and purchased both of those cows with his winnings she said.

She said Matt has always been interested in athletics but that he is especially interested in steer showing. She said Josh Howard of Chambers County, state steer champion for the past two years, has been working with Matt to help him learn showing techniques.

Blackburn said that steer showing also is hard work as the steers must be fed every morning and every night and it is suggested they be washed down daily so their hair grows faster. "They (those raising the steers) must be there every day," she said.

She said Matt especially interested in steer showing. "He's into sports and all that, but he enjoys this a lot more," Blackburn said.

Matt has won several honors since he began participating in steer shows.

In October of 2001, he placed third in showmanship and "Buck" was the grand champion steer at the Lee County Fair in Opelika; he was sixth in showmanship and "Buck" was fourth in his weight category at the Alabama National Fair in Montgomery.

In November of 2001, "Buck" was second in his class at the National Peanut Festival Junior Heifer and Steer Show in Dothan. In February of this year, Matt placed first in showmanship at the Auburn University Collegiate FFA "Winter Classic" Junior Beef and Heifer Show and "Buck" was third in his class.

In March, Matt placed first in junior showmanship at the Chambers County 4-H Steer and Heifer Show in LaFayette and "Buck" placed second in the heavyweight class and was reserve champion steer. Also in March, at the 2002 West Central Alabama Beef Expo Junior Livestock Show in Montgomery, Matt placed third in showmanship while "Buck" was first in his class, was champion heavyweight steer, grand champion steer and best Alabama bred steer.

That competition brought Matt and "Buck" to the 2002 Alabama Junior Beef Expo in Montgomery in which Matt placed first in rookie showmanship and second in 13-14-year-old showmanship while "Buck" placed first in the heavyweight class, was champion heavyweight steer, champion heavyweight Alabama bred steer, grand champion steer and champion Alabama bred steer.