At the heart of the Missouri State Fair are the youth — the young men and women who go to enjoy the Midway, food and concerts, and those who exhibit at the Fair.
Without their ancestors, the parents and grandparents of those who exhibit, the road to the Fair may be longer and a little more complicated than just getting in a car and attending for a day.
Swine Superintendent J.R. Reid knows this very well as both a parent and grandparent.
He also knows it from years ago as a child when he was showing barrows and gilts as his father and grandfather watched him with pride.
“I’m not 100 percent certain but I think J.R.’s family has been a part of the fair since the very first one was held,” Missouri State Fair Livestock Superintendent David Dick said. “I don’t think there is another person who knows more about swine than J.R.
“When I became livestock superintendent, he was the superintendent first person I had the opportunity to hire and I did so because he knew and understood both the show aspect and the industry side of the business,” Dick added. “He has reinvigorated the youth aspect of the swine show because of the hard work and success he has witnessed in his family.”
Two decades ago, Reid’s stepdaughter, Tara (Hinck) Brewer experienced the highest level of success as she was awarded Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion for her two Hampshires in the 1996 Missouri State Fair.
“It was really exciting to win but it was a lot of hard work that we did together as a family,” Brewer said. “The truth of it is that winning was very nice but what it’s all about is being together as a family.
“Because of my experiences with 4-H and FFA and the Fair there are people who have come into my life who will be lifelong friends,” she added. “The success that I experienced was really nice but I have been blessed because of the people who all come together every August to be a part of the Fair.”
Brewer, who was 16 when she won the titles, is now experiencing the emotions of watching her children, Reid’s grandchildren, as they begin to exhibit at the Fair.
She and her husband, Jared Brewer, have two children, son Keegan Brewer, 12, and daughter Kendall Brewer, 10. Both have been going to shows since they were infants.
“Keegan was showing at 2 at the Saline County Fair in the pee-wee division,” Brewer said with a laugh. “Kendall was at her first show when she was only a few months old.
“They both started in 4-H at 8 years old so they have been doing this for a few years now,” she added. “They are both involved in sports in school but when they are in the ring showing, that is calming to me because it’s what I know and am familiar with. When they are competing in other events is when I am nervous.”
Brewer credits Reid with her success showing swine, commenting that he was a good teacher and continues to be today.
“My children are continuing a tradition from their grandfather’s family and I hope they do so respectfully,” Brewer said. “There is not a person in the world who J.R. wouldn’t help or give the shirt off his back to, especially a child.”
Before Brewer came to the interview, Reid was asked why he continued the tradition began by his father and grandfather.
“It was always a point of emphasis with my grandpa,” Reid explained. “He realized the importance of 4-H and the lessons that could be learned from the organization.
“I think it teaches so much about self-confidence and responsibility and having pride in your work and yourself,” he added. “It’s what we try to instill in the kids today both personally and through the 4-H and FFA programs.”
Reid added that more than 90 percent of the exhibitors were members of the two groups.
“For me, and I think for most parents, you always hope that your child’s life is better than yours and that they are able to leave their mark in the world in whatever they do,” Brewer said. “That’s what it’s all about — the legacy they leave and the lessons they are given.
“I was really blessed to have Jerry (Reid) teach me and I feel even more so now that he is teaching my children,” Brewer said. “He has worked really hard all of his life and I always wanted to make him proud because he makes me proud every day I have known him. There aren’t many J.R. Reid’s out there and I and my family are blessed to have him be a part of ours.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.