TRAVERSE CITY — Clarice Pahl's 1,300-pound red Angus steer named Bruno put on a little extra weight since the new year — about 600 pounds.
But that added girth should translate to cold, hard cash for Pahl during the Northwestern Michigan Fair, which begins today.
Pahl, 18, of Buckley, is one of dozens of 4-H club members who hope to sell their pigs, lambs, sheep, rabbits and more at the 4-H auction on Aug. 8, an event that's one of the week-long regional fair's main draws.
"It's so fun to see you and your friends succeed at the fair," said Pahl, a graduate of Buckley Community Schools who plans to attend Grand Valley State University this fall.
This year marks the second time Pahl raised a steer for the auction. Before that she always raised dairy cows.
Pahl was a bit timid about steers after seeing what can go wrong with the larger cattle. Two years ago, for example, a steer at the fair became spooked and badly injured one of Pahl's friends, an incident that landed him in the intensive care unit.
But she still decided to graduate to steers and hasn't regretted it.
"I just thought I needed to challenge myself, and the only way you can learn is from other people's mistakes," she said.
Darrell Robinson, president of the Northwestern Michigan 4-H Livestock Council, said youths can learn a lot by raising animals for the auction.
"They're young entrepreneurs learning how to raise a product, and then when it's done they have to market it and market themselves," he said.
Pahl bought Bruno late last year and has cared for him since. She feeds him twice daily, gives him plenty of exercise and trains him for the judging portion of the auction.