September 7, 2010
Preble farmer wins big at fair
Owner of Co-Vale Holsteins brings home 11 first place titles
PREBLE — Brad Cates was washing one of his champion cows last week during the New York State Fair when a young girl asked to pet the animal.
Cates gladly obliged.
“It’s just so rewarding to have kids pet them and ask questions,” he said.
Cates, a farmer who owns Co-Vale Holsteins on Otisco Valley Road — a 1,200-acre dairy farm with 900 cows — won eleven first-place titles at the New York State Fair this year, his biggest win in 40 years of competing at the fair.
During the fair, which began Aug. 26 and ended Monday, Cates came in first and second in three classes. Co-Vale Jasper Kelcy was the best heifer at the fair and Co-Vale Dolman Poppy was the second best.
Cates was designated as the premier breeder and exhibitor at the fair.
Sarah Cates, Brad’s wife, won an intermediate champion title and a title for second best cow.
“It was a dream come true,” Cates said of his accolades.
The Cates family has been participating in dairy competitions since Brad Cates was a young boy. Cates, 47, said he started working on his family’s farm when he was around 7 years old. He learned how to run a farm from his family, and learned how to compete from his family and the Cortland County 4-H program.
The program, which promotes environmental awareness among students, provided Cates an opportunity to learn everything about what it takes to have a winning cow.
Fred Pierce, public relations director for the State Fair, said cows are judged by appearance in every category. Pierce said the fair hosts competitions and contests for people in various categories.
This year, there were 194 entries from Cortland County residents for this year’s fair in various categories such as arts and crafts, dairy goat shows and cooking contests.
Pierce said gives people attending the fair, most of whom are unfamiliar with farm animals, a chance to get a good look at the animals and talk to the farmers who raise them.
“We live in a fast-paced world,” he said.
Cates said slower-paced activities, like farming, are not thought about because consumers will go to the store to get dairy products, but not think about the origins of the product. The State Fair allows the opportunity for consumer to meet producer, Cates said.
Cates said as a farmer he feels obligated to close the disconnect between farmers and nonfarmers. Allowing people to pet his cows, as he did with the young girl, is one step in closing that gap, he said.
“I would have taken my cows to the fair even if I didn’t compete,” Cates said.
Cates will compete in the World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin this fall.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe