County Fairsby Gary Mitchell on 09/28/15
Have I told you how much I hate the county fair? It's the hottest week of the year, dust from the horse show arena always drifts over to the goat barn, people bringin' a coffin-sized tack box for 1 goat, and the general public and their strollers are always in the way. In terms of competition, the county fair is the easiest show we go to all year. However, it's the show where you are most likely to not win with the best goat. Oftentimes, the criteria for hiring a county fair judge include cheap and close; and is hired by an Extension Administrator who doesn't know who's-who in livestock judging circles.
We had a good fair this year. It started off with Justine winning the county fair Princess crown. I really don't care about the fair royalty, it takes away from my "all livestock, all the time" mentality. However, I am lucky that I was there to cheer for her when she won (I almost stayed in the barn to shear a lamb). Later that night, Princess Justine changed out of her formal dress and back into a t-shirt and jeans to shear lambs. We started the next day with the lamb show. Justine won Senior Showmanship (out of 18) and Amelia won Junior Showmanship (out of 16). Justine had Champion market lamb and Amelia was 4th overall, out of about 100 lambs. Justine's ewe was 3rd overall, and Amelia's was 2nd in class behind Justine. This was Justine's 2nd and Amelia's 1st year showing lambs. The showmanship lessons from Todd Wolff at Team Wolff Show Lambs paid off. Todd won Showmanship at NAILE his last year in 4-H.
Next was the market goat show. Justine won Senior Showmanship and Amelia won Junior Showmanship. Amelia has won her showmanship class at the county fair every time she has shown. Justine had Champion market goat and Amelia won her class, and was the unofficial 3rd overall. In the doe show, the girls won 3 of the 4 trophies. Fortunately for us, both the lamb and goat show judges where qualified individuals who are well respected in the industry.
Next was the Livestock Judging contest, where we place a class of 4 market and breeding animals of the Beef, Sheep, and Swine species, and have questions to answer as well. Both of my daughters and my wife have won a trophy at this event. I am the only one who has not, despite being a competitive member of the MI State University Livestock Judging team. My reasoning for this is that it is hard to find a local judge to officiate who is competent in all species. Justine won the Senior Division and Amelia was 3rd in the Junior Division.
The highlight of the week was the Showman of Showman competition where the showmanship winner of each specie get together in a show off of all species. This year they showed beef steers, dairy feeders, dairy cows, market hogs, market goats, market lambs, rabbits, light horses, and draft horses. It is a marathon event. Justine qualified through both the lamb and goat showmanship, and chose to represent goats to "bring a little respect to the goat barn", as they have never had a winner in this event. In between Princess commitments, she worked hard all week to learn how to show each specie. I give a special thanks to the Von Stein family for their coaching in this endeavor. Sure enough, little Justine was the winner! She is a very determined kid, who I would never bet against. In the effort to win the 7 trophies that Justine won, and the 4 that Amelia won, there where several moments that filled this proud father's eyes with tears. Have I told you how much I love the county fair?
There is a quote that I like to share: Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months, and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their champion character.