MAHOMET — Raising and showing cattle is a family tradition for the Turners of rural Mahomet.
"My grandpa, Don Turner, showed cattle for many years, and my dad, Doug Turner, followed in his footsteps," Luke Turner said. "I'm still showing cattle, and now my children are doing the same."
When 17-year-old Madeline and 16-year-old Gavin join their father in the livestock barns at the Champaign County Fair starting this weekend, it will mark four generations for the family.
"We show shorthorn and Angus beef cattle," Turner said. "We'll be taking 12 animals to the Champaign County Fair this year."
Dad will compete in the open show, while Madeline and Gavin will take part in the junior and 4-H groups.
Madeline is a bit of fair royalty these days. She won the title of Miss Congeniality at last week's Fisher Community Fair.
As for the cattle, they're critiqued on a variety of characteristics. Judges compare each entry to the other animals in their class and evaluate how each one stacks up to the ideal standard.
"We love showing at the various county fairs," Turner said.
Champaign County will mark the sixth stop on the Turners' cattle-showing summer tour.
It started out of state, at June's National Heifer Show in Louisville. Since then, it's been one East Central Illinois town after another — the Ford County Fair in Melvin, the Moultrie-Douglas County Fair in Arthur, the Fisher Fair and the Farmer City Fair.
"But the Champaign County Fair is the most special fair of all for us," Turner said, "since this county is our home."
Not only does the busy schedule make for great family-bonding time; Turner also believes that having children raise cattle teaches them responsibility.
"They get up each day at 6:30 a.m. before they go to school to tend to the animals, and then they help out at the barn again at night when they get home," he said.
On tap Friday night and Saturday at the Champaign County Fair in Urbana:
MUSIC: Blackjack Billy, with the Feudin' Hillbillies, take the stage at 7 p.m. Friday.
MIDWAY: The carnival opens at 5 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.
MOTORCYCLES: Kicking off Military Appreciation Day: the rodeo, from noon-4 p.m. Saturday.
MASHING: Saturday's main event: the demolition derby, set for 6:30 p.m.