When Austin and Lauren Schwartzbeck first shared glances during Labor Day Weekend at the Maryland State Fair, they were both doing what they love: competing in cow shows.

Austin, a well-respected regional dairy judge, was also well-known for cow showmanship. Back in 2011, the then-Virginia Tech student was named Junior Champion at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, the pinnacle of dairy shows, with his beloved cow, Fishy. Bringing the title back to Peace & Plenty Farm in Union Bridge, Maryland, was an accomplishment for the entire Schwartzbeck family.

“Everyone on the farm helped with care and walking practice. When I won, it was like we all won. It was the most special moment in my showing career,” Austin explains.

Lauren was accomplished in the show ring as well. She was showing a red and white Holstein at the Maryland State Fair on the weekend that she met Austin. Lauren grew up on her grandparents’ dairy farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where she started in 4-H at 8 years old.

“I just like being immersed in the dairy industry, being immersed in farm life, working with the family and working with the cattle,” Lauren says.

Lauren, now a middle school teacher, says showing cows is a family tradition and a personal passion.

“I love sharing stories and photos with my students,” Lauren says, “and telling them all about the cows to help them build connections with their food.”

Connecting with consumers is important, Austin says. Dairy cattle showmanship is one way to share how hard dairy farmers work to care for their animals.

“We give cows the best bedding, the freshest that we can provide, making sure they have plenty of water, a healthy diet and clean air. Everything that we would like to have, cows like to have,” he explains. “Healthy cows with the best care will produce the most quality milk and that’s what we strive for,” Austin adds.

Now, the young married couple share their dairy traditions with their one-year-old son, Cole.

“When I see Cole interacting on the farm, how excited he gets, and I take him to see the cows and we ride around looking at the farm,” Austin says, “for me, there is nothing better.”

The family returns every Labor Day Weekend to the Maryland State Fair, spending time with their cows and each other in that same aisle in the same barn where they met four years ago.

“The Maryland State Fair is sentimental to us. We both enjoyed showing cattle there before we met. Now, we return to the fair and remember it was just four years ago that I saw you walk by,” Austin says.

Lauren says, “We go back every year and we’re doing our favorite thing together – showing cows – and it shows the hard work that we do as a family and as a couple.”

They recreate photographs each year. One as a dating couple, the next as engaged, then married. And last year’s photo included their son, Cole. This year, they will add a baby girl to their annual photo at the Maryland State Fair. Lauren gave birth to the couples’ second child, Addison Mariah, in July.

“Dairy farming is a 365-day job, and working together with our cows on the farm, then showing at the Maryland State Fair really means a lot to us, not only as a family, but as farmers in the dairy industry,” Austin says.

Learn more about the Schwartzbecks and Peace & Plenty Farm by watching their episode of “This American Dairy Farmer” below.