Living to Learn

Published 11:43 am Friday, July 11, 2014

ROME TOWNSHIP — Olivia Burge of Scottown Farmers got to learn the lesson that expanding one’s knowledge can happen anywhere and anytime.

As she was competing in the junior market rabbit showman competition, she got a few extra pointers from judge Danny Long of Williamsburg.

“Hold him close to you with your fingers on the ears,” Long said. “That way you have control. That rabbit you have is a little bit feisty. But don’t be afraid.”

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Olivia may not have gotten the top prize in her competition, but she has left this year’s fair with a bit more information that can stand her in good stead for next year.

And when it comes to winning the showmanship class, knowledge is the key — the only key.

Judges for both junior and senior 4-Hers held their competitions for master showman at the same time at the small animal barn Wednesday morning. Two days prior, the youth were there to show off their animals. This time it was to impress the judges.

“Show me what you’ve got,” Tim Branham of Mason County, told the six girls who pulled first place in one of the divisions of the senior class. “You all are first-place winners. I don’t want any of you to be timid.”

To get to be named market rabbit showman, they had to exhibit extensive knowledge of their animal. As the young women stood before Branham at the exhibit table, they simultaneously went through their paces reciting all the information they knew about their rabbits.

Next they met one-on-one with Branham at one end of the exhibit table as the other five waited at the other end. Constantly Branham was observing them all because one of the rules for exhibiting is contestants must keep their eye on the judge at all times.

That was a point Branham cautioned the participants at the end of the competition.

“Watch the judge,” he said. “Never take your eyes off the judge. Learn your standards. If you learn showmanship, it will help you pick out a better rabbit next time. Do a little more homework.”

After the questioning Branham ranked the young women with the first place winner being Malenna Davis, of Willow Wood, who was marking her last year in 4-H. Malenna is a member of Farmhands and is studying to be a surgical tech at Mountwest Community and Technical College

“I’m shocked,” she said. “I studied for a couple of weeks.”

On the junior side, both judges tag-teamed to pick the winner since there were four fewer classes on the senior side and that judge had already finished his rounds.

This time the winner was a first-timer, Mary Beth Back, 9, of Coal Grove, and a member of Farmhands.

“It was a little bit hard until I got used to it,” she said about the interview process. “But I feel really excited.”