Those who know me know that one of my passions is showing, looking at and hopefully selling purebred cattle. Showing cattle is bone crunching work and many hours of preparation to do it correctly. Some of my friends who shy away from the more “gentile” side of the cattle business swear that a cattle show barn is closer to being a beautician at a beauty parlor than it is to being a cowboy. The hair dye, shampoo, clippers, glue, oil and 100 cans of different products to make cow hair look good just goes a little bit beyond some of their sensibilities of what a cowboy’s life ought to be.
For those of you who are wondering what in the world I am talking about at this point you can click here for fluffy cows as we lovingly call show cattle decked out.
These cattle all look great when their glued, dyed, blown, clipped and primped like a Miss America pageant participant. Any veteran cattle showman knows, if you really want to know what these cattle look like take a minute to walk by when they are in the wash rack. All the glue stripped away, the hair all matted down with water and the shine washed away some of these show winners look a lot more like your redneck uncle on NASCAR race day than a beauty pageant winner (no offense to any redneck uncles who love NASCAR). I digress, so let’s get back to the Wyoming Legend.
Someone everyone in every show barn in America knew was Mary Von Forrell from Wheatland, Wyoming. Unfortunately, Mary is no longer with us, but her memory will be forever. Mary knew more about showing cattle and raising good ones than most folks ever dream about. I was in my 20s at one of the major cattle shows in the US. I recall that it was Louisville, but it could have been Denver. Regardless of my fading memory of the location, my memory of what Mary told me has stuck with me clear as a bell. Mary told me one evening...
"There are a lot of good cattle in the world, but great show cattle are built by those who pay attention to the details."
This isn’t a direct quote from her, but it does express the point. It was good advice and I am eternally grateful for Mary and others like her who shared their knowledge freely.
Mary’s sage advice applies to more than show cattle. I think it applies directly to community development. The point is every community in America has assets but great communities, truly amazing places, know how to exploit their assets and downplay their problems. It worries me that we too often do the opposite. It’s common for communities to be obsessed with what they don’t have or what their problems are and spend very little time highlighting their strong points. If we want to have a brighter future for Cheyenne and Wyoming, then constantly complaining about what we don’t have will not deliver it for us. Highlighting our assets will build our future and we have plenty of them worth accentuating. Besides even those cowboys who refer to those of us show cattle as "bovine beauticians" would rather see the Grand Champion heifer decked out in all her glory than see her shivering in the wash rack with the aforementioned greatness washed down the drain.
Community and economic development progress has to be measured in decades, not days, weeks or even months. At the Chamber we are engaged in it every single day sculpting our relationship with Partners, and through enriching our community's assets. We work with government at all levels, private sector, industries and markets to foster optimal results. The fruits of our labor from 10 years ago has brought us an economic base allowing for growth and investment. Our work today will be impacting the generations to come. What we do matters and we do it with our business community.