West Feliciana Middle School student Jonelise Sturgeon celebrated her 13th birthday surrounded by goats, hogs and cows at the South Central District Livestock show in Gonzales.

It wasn’t the first time the 4-H livestock exhibitor celebrated her birthday at a livestock show.

Jonelise, who exhibited goats at the show held Feb. 4 through Saturday at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, said she didn’t mind celebrating her birthday with her 4-H friends and family at the barns.

Jonelise and the other West Feliciana Parish 4-H members said their participation in 4-H and livestock shows have forged friendships that they see as positives in their lives.

As they prepared on the first day of the show, the 4-H’ers sat near their animals, talking about the show and things most teens chat about. The only difference was these teens spent most of their time with livestock at their side.

“Our big day is tomorrow when we compete in showmanship,” Jonelise said.

Hunter Beauchamp, 13, a seventh-grader at West Feliciana Middle School, took his goat on a walk around the barn during downtime.

They were waiting for the goat showmanship contest and other exhibitions.

On the other side of the large arena-turned-barn area, three West Feliciana Parish middle-schoolers were spending time at the hog pens.

Haleigh Lewellyan, 13, Cameron Rachal, 12, and Abbi Tycer, 12, said they enjoy exhibiting livestock and spending time with their animals.

The girls said that the hogs can sometimes be stubborn. They entice the animals to do what they want by giving sweet treats as rewards. Oreos, vanilla wafers and honey buns are just some of the snacks the hogs get for good behavior.

Madison Pollet, 14, and her dairy cow, Dixie, had some downtime that morning as they waited for the competition.

Pollet, who also exhibits chickens, was hoping to add to her extensive belt buckle collection with a win at the show. Over the years, she’s won 11 championship belt buckles at livestock competition.

Pollet said she originally wanted to show goats, but when they went six years ago to pick out a goat, she “fell in love with a dairy cow and that was that.”

Pollet and other West Feliciana and East Feliciana parish 4-H members will get to do it all over again this weekend at the 81st annual LSU AgCenter Livestock Show, slated for Feb. 13-20 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

Leanna B. Cupit, assistant extension agent for East Feliciana and West Feliciana parishes, said the parishes will be well represented at the state show.

She said the state show is a “family affair where friends and family get together to support the kids.”