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Junior and senior showmen selected

ROME TOWNSHIP — Learning how to master handling one animal can be a challenge, but to add five more different species seems a daunting task.

However six 4-Hers stepped up to the plate on Friday morning to vie for the Showman of Showmen honors.

Taking the top Senior Showman of Showmen trophy was Kimberly Schmidt of Kitts Hill and a member of Sidekicks 4-H Club. The 15-year-old had come to the fair to show chickens, but was equally at ease leading around a 1,200-pound steer or a 250-pound hog, looking at all times cool and calm.

However apparently her poise belied her real feelings.

“I was really nervous and anxious,” Schmidt said. “I was really relieved (when she won.) It is a fun experience. You gain social skills. You learn how to keep your patience with the animals.”

For more than two hours Schmidt and five other fellow 4-Hers showed off their ability to control a hog, goat, lamb, steer, rabbit and chicken. The purpose of the exercise was to determine the versatility of the young people. Each contender had already received top showman honors for his or her species. But then they had to demonstrate their technique with all the other species shown at the fair.

Already Schmidt had taken top showman honors twice in the junior category. But that competition focused exclusively on book knowledge of the animals. The senior contest tested both knowledge and handling.

“They tried hard,” judge Travis West from Albany, told the audience in the arena bleachers. “They all did a good job. We saw an animal or two that didn’t cooperate. But I didn’t dock them for that.”

After the seniors finished their competition, their junior counterparts entered the ring. But this time, they did not handle the animals. Instead 4-H judges set up a station for each of the six species with each competitor going from station to station to be quizzed about each.

Junior Showman of Showmen honors went to Dylan Back, who had earlier in the week taken the showman trophy in the goat show. This was the first year for the Kitts Hill 4-Her to compete in the livestock shows.

As soon as Dylan, a member of the Farm Hands club, won the goat showman award, he began studying the other breeds, putting in hours every evening after a day of caring for his animal.

“This feels great,” he said about his win.