MADISON, Wis. — Two good friends from Pennsylvania — with a shared love for good cows and the showring — shared the thrill of back-to-back Supreme champion pageants – first at the All-American in Harrisburg in September and again last Friday, Oct. 7 at the 55th World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.
For Hannah Balthaser 15, of Bernville, Berks County and Landree Fraley, 17, of Muncy, Montour County, the anticipation was evident when we caught up with them before the pageant — coming off Hannah’s grand champion win Wednesday with her Brown Swiss and Landree’s grand champion win Thursday with her Red and White.
This was Hannah’s first time on the famous colored shavings of the international event, which boasted record numbers of entries as the World Brown Swiss Conference was in town.
Hannah’s homebred 5-year-old Northkill Creek Groovy not only earned both the grand champion and bred-and-owned champion honors in the junior show, she also caught the judge’s eye for reserve senior and honorable mention grand in the International Brown Swiss open show.
Then, Friday evening, Hannah and Groovy walked away with the check and banner for reserve supreme of the junior show as well.
The Madison wins cap off a successful trail of banners over the past two years for Hannah and Groovy from Louisville to Harrisburg, including NAILE, AADS and the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Groovy is a direct descendant of the 4-H calf Hannah’s father Randy Balthaser purchased 40 years ago, whose offspring form the foundation of the family’s Northkill Creek Brown Swiss herd.
Four months fresh with her fourth calf, the winning 5-year-old also qualified for the production class.
What did judge Gerrit DeBruin like most about Groovy? Structurally correct, he made note of her udder, awarding her best udder of the Brown Swiss show too.
As for Landree, she has been showing at World Dairy Expo with her twin brother Dakota since 2013. She had a junior champion heifer in 2019, but this year marked her first grand champion cow in the junior show.
Landree and Dakota purchased Garay-Red Diamond-Red-ET a year ago. Not only was the 4-year-old grand and senior champion of the junior show, she also stood 4th in her class in the open show, where the eventual grand champion shown by Milksource and Ransom-Rail was first, the AADS supreme champion shown by Oakfield Corners was second and a Westcoast Holsteins cow from BC Canada was third ahead of the Fraleys’ cow.
The twins have their own pack with other animals at the Expo, having started their own prefix “Twin County” when they were 8-years-old. Diamond, however, has been living at Heart and Soul Holsteins and Jerseys, Millmont, Pennsylvania since the All-American.
In fact, both girls are quick to give much gratitude and credit to Doug and Matthew Boop of Heart and Soul.
“The difference maker is this crew,” said Landree about the Boop brothers. “They work with these animals at all of these shows and really know them like we do.”
They also love Udder Comfort for softening the udders after calving and at shows. “It works really well to soften the udders, which brings out the quality and keeps them healthy,” says Hannah.
Her mother Traci recalls getting samples when the product first came out. “We have used Udder Comfort ever since. There’s nothing better,” she says. “We use a lot of it before and after showing and when our cows and 2-year-olds freshen.”
The Boops love it too. “You can never have enough Udder Comfort!” says Matthew.
The girls stay at the pack helping with everything — and there’s a lot to do to keep cows clean and ready. Between shows, Hannah takes care of her cow at home, where Groovy goes from show champ to just being part of the milking herd.
“It’s a lot of work,” says Hannah, who gave up other activities like dance, which she loves, to devote herself to preparing and showing at the ‘big dance’ in Madison.
“You have got to be patient and get out there and see what it takes,” says Landree.
“We’re excited to do the Supreme pageant together,” the girls said in unison. In fact, they got a taste of it at the AADS Premier National Junior Show the past two years. The big pageant at World Dairy Expo, on the other hand, felt a bit surreal to both of them.
“It has not sunk in yet,” they agreed.
Hannah and Landree are great friends and competitors who see each other mostly at shows, but they text each other often, living two hours apart. Now they have this Expo memory to share – along with their obvious love for cows.
Asked what they like about working with and showing cows, the girls looked at each other, and then looked back at me:
“Their personalities,” said Hannah.
“That’s right,” added Landree. “We just like cows…”
…especially these cows.