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Animals steal the show at the Big E - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Animals steal the show at the Big E

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -

It's all about the animals at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass. During the 17-day fair, animals are primped daily for big shows at the Big E. In the ring, beauty points count. That's why Rachel Before from Agawam Farm in Newport, Vt., takes every measure necessary to make sure her Ayrshire cows look their best.

"They get treated better than I do," Before said. "When we're at the show, it's all about them."

Before's been coming for 12 years to the Big E and pulls out all the stops. Blow dryers, sheers, even hair spray gets used to beautify these cows.

"It's a little stronger than stuff you'd use on yourself, but they move around a lot more," Before explained.

Keeping the girls looking good for their once-over from the judge is necessary, since the competition is stiff.

"I'm judging the Big E because of my years of experience," Dennis Descoteaus said.

Twenty-five years to be exact. And this Ayrshire judge from Quebec knows what he's looking for.

"It's a very hearty, robust breed. We're looking for femininity that we want to see in females, the dairy qualities, the capability to produce milk," Descoteaus said.

Reporter Gina Bullard: I saw a Quebec cow just win. Are you being a little biased?

Dennis Descoteaus: (Laughs) I hope not!

Winning at this national show means more than just money.

"She gains in value and for the exhibitor, for the breeding program it gains value. It's promotion for the dairy farm," Descoteaus explained.

"For us, it's a big deal," Before said. "It's free publicity for your animals. You do well, everybody knows it. It's published everywhere. It's a pride factor."

Gina Bullard: How are the Vermont cows doing today?

Dennis Descoteaus: They're doing pretty well. There's a lot of nice ones there.

The next stop for many of these competitors is the World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin. People say the Big E is a good gauge to know if you have the goods or the girls to know if you can compete at a higher level.

Click here for more on the Big E.

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