NORFOLK - The next generation of Nebraska farmers is showing that the future is bright for the ag industry.

Participants from across the state arrived in Norfolk to compete in the 23rd annual Nebraska Junior Beef Expo.

The annual event allows for cattle showmen and women ages eight to 21 to compete against one another.

However, this event isn't just about showmanship.

Junior Beef Expo Coordinator Diane Duren says the competition is really an opportunity for learning.

"It's really about educating and the passion they have for the ag industry," Duren said. "We also have a speech contest both prepared and impromptu."

A major concern to the agricultural industry is a lack of participation.

However, this year's expo had its biggest increase in attendance ever.

"We've not really seen a decline in attendance," Duren said. "This year we are up in attendance. It was quite a bit less than that two years ago."

Duren credits the increase to the unique learning opportunities the event provides.

"There's a lot of shows across Nebraska that they can roll in, show, and go home," Duren said.

Many of those competing this weekend will show again later this summer.

What they learn here will be beneficial to their future endeavors with agriculture.