Senior, junior exhibitors top of their class

Published 11:25 am Sunday, July 13, 2014

ROME TOWNSHIP — Kimberly Schmidt opened the cage resting on a table in the middle of the livestock arena at the county fairgrounds. Then she gently tapped the white plumed rooster perched inside a couple of times on its back, then pulled him out and set him on a bed of sawdust nearby.

“The tapping helps him to stand better,” she said.

Kimberly was competing in the last competition of the weeklong Lawrence County Fair — the showman of showmen contest Friday morning. She faced competition from seven other 4-Hers after winning the showman contest in the chicken category earlier in the week.

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Now the eight participants had to demonstrate they could handle all the animals brought to the competitions at the fair — chicken, goat, lamb, steer, rabbit and hog.

Contestants paraded the large animals around the arena as judge Jenna Gillian, from Racine, watched intently, marking on a clipboard points for each 4-Her.

After the large animals were exhibited, the tables were brought out for contestants to show chickens and rabbits.

“They are doing really good,” Gillian said during a break in the competition. “I’m really impressed with their knowledge about all the animals, especially with the wide variety of ages.”

After all the participants showed what they knew, Gillian announced the winners for senior showman of showmen. Kimberly pulled a third place followed by Ann Michal Dyer in second. Then Dylan Back of Farmhands 4-H was named the senior showman of showmen.

This was the second time for Dylan to win the coveted trophy.

“It feels great to win,” he said. “It’s fun to get to show all the different animals and get that type of experience.”

As Dylan accepted the cheers and congratulations of his friends, fair volunteers set up for the junior show, which takes a different format. Instead of the contestants leading around a goat or steer, the animals are brought into the arena and each participant goes around to them to be quizzed by a judge at each station.

Teresa Huddle, Barnbuster adviser and 4-H judge, was at the lamb station and quizzed each contestant on everything from naming the different breeds to the parts of the body to the most important nutrient that a lamb needs. Answer: Water.

Then she asked each to place the lamb’s feet for a presentation. Only two knew that the first hoof placed must be by the judge all the while maintaining eye contact with the judge.

After all points were tallied, the junior showman of showman was announced — Connor Franklin.

The 13-year-old is a member of Five-Mile Frontiersmen and shows chickens.

“I feel pretty excited,” Connor said as he posed with his trophy.