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Family prepares for beef cookout

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ANN MARIE AMES
August 14, 2008
— It’s all about family for the Johnsons.

So, next week, they’ll set the table for a nice steak dinner and invite everyone they know.


And a few they don’t.


Vaughn and Judy Johnson, Turtle Township, will host the 2008 Rock County Beef Producers Cookout. At least 2,000 people are expected at the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds for the annual event that’s taken place around the county since the 1970s.


The Johnsons were among the founding members of the beef cookout.


“That was kind of the reason we wanted to go back and recognize them,” said Rob McConnell, president of the Rock County Beef Producers. “To pay respects to some of the early ones.”


The Johnsons hosted one of the first cookouts on July 1, 1976, at their farm on Butterfly Road south of Shopiere.


That year was the first time the beef producers had served steak at the event, and a dinner cost $3.25.


It’s $12 this year, but dinner will include a baked potato with butter, sour cream and cheese rather than the usual potato salad.


The Johnsons support the county’s beef industry because it keeps families working together, said Judy, a secretary at Clinton High School. Vaughn also regularly volunteers at the county dairy breakfast and pork cookout.


Showing cattle brings together many elements as parents and older siblings teach kids the ropes, she said.


“The focus of caring for livestock kind of keeps everyone together,” Judy said. “And it’s all about family.”


Lots of beef cattle shown in southern Wisconsin came from the Johnsons’ herd. This fall will mark the 44th annual club calf sale at the Johnsons’ farm, where the family has been raising Shorthorn cattle since 1947.


Families come to buy fair calves for the next summer for anywhere from $600 to $1,000, said Vaughn, silage coordinator at Seneca Foods, Janesville.


Many of the calves come from the family’s herd of registered Shorthorns. Others are consigned to the sale from other herds.


“We focus on having an affordable steer for beginners who are learning the beef project,” Vaughn said. “They can grow with it and learn with it.”


Rock County has a lot to offer, and the quality of its livestock is common knowledge, Judy said.


“When you show with Rock County, you’re respected wherever you go.”


If you go
What: The Rock County Beef Producers annual cookout.
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21.
Where: The Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds, Craig Street, Janesville.
Cost: 12-ounce sirloin, baked potato, sweet corn and a beverage for $12; 6-ounce steak sandwich with sides and a beverage for $8; kids burger and chips for $5.
For more information: Call Rob McConnell at (608) 774-4624.

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