Thursday, July 17, 2014

Showmanship Showdown #TBTStories

My Throwback Thursday Story today is in honor of the county fair, particularly the showmanship competition that wraps up the livestock show each year. For those of you not familiar with showing livestock, showmanship is a class where the exhibitor is judged on how well he or she presents the animal. It includes, among other things, answering questions, knowing your animal's strengths and weaknesses, showring etiquette, and presenting your animal in a calm and professional manner.

Many counties have a 'round-robin' or 'supreme showmanship' contest in which the top showmen from each species compete by showing an animal from each species in a single evening. Our contest is named as a memorial to Tom Swain, who was a friend and supporter of 4-H in our community, and was killed in a car accident along with his two young sons. Last night marked the 40th year for the contest in Decatur County.

My throwback story goes back to 2004, when Jennifer competed in the contest for the second year. She earned a spot in the competition by being a first or second place winner in the expert division of the beef show. At that time, our show included the top two showmen in beef, swine, sheep, and dairy. Although Jennifer also showed horses, they are not included in the competition. Our county contest now includes goats as well.

Of the four species to be shown, Jennifer only showed beef, so she had to borrow an animal for each of the other species. It ends up being like a crash course in showing, as the exhibitors try to learn as much as they can about each species between the time that they qualify for the contest and the moment they step into the ring to compete. On a hot, hot evening, the 8 contestants started out by showing a pig.
Showing a pig involves tapping it with a little stick to chase walk it around the ring so that the judge can get a good look at it. You must keep your pig between you and the judge, while maintaining control (ie. knowing which pig is yours), all the time keeping your eyes on the judge. Easier said than done!
Next up, beef cattle, and Jennifer was comfortable and happy to be showing her own animal. Jennifer always loved showmanship. Her love of animals, her confidence, and her ability to remain calm made her a good showman. She took it seriously, but with a smile on her face. (And it never hurts to smile at a judge.)
I have always thought that for those who don't show beef, it must be hard and a little intimidating to take an animal you just recently met into the showring, because of their size. They're big! The exhibitors are savvy enough to borrow animals that have demonstrated that they are calm and tame, but even so, they can still be unpredictable.
Exhibiting dairy requires that you walk slowly. And backwards. And there are questions.
Sometimes, the answers get a little creative. How much milk will she produce in a year? I think the judge must have been amused by her answer, and she joined him in sharing a chuckle. No need to tense up, just relax and have fun. :)
Jennifer showed her friend Heather's lamb, and it cooperated well for her. This sheep showing experience proved valuable for Jennifer in her vet tech class at Purdue. While they were learning to restrain sheep for treatment, Jennifer calmly braced the lamb against her leg as shown, while the rest of the class was being pulled all over the arena by the sometimes crazy sheep. Lol.
Keep your eyes on the judge.
Answer more questions.
Whew! All finished, animals put away, and contestants back in the ring for the award presentation. Did I mention it was 100 degrees in there? Each exhibitor receives a medal, a shirt, and other mementos as a reward for their hard work. Then it's wait for the judge to announce the runner-up and the winner.
A big smile at the moment she knew she had won.
A handshake from the judge. Another smile.
That's a big trophy! The large one is a rotating trophy that the winner keeps for a year with his or her name inscribed. The smaller trophy is hers to keep.
All the contestants pose with the judge and the fair royalty.
And a celebratory picture with the whole family. Now that's what I call a throwback!

P.S. Jessica is taking a summer break from the #TBTStories linkup, but I wanted to continue with the stories anyway. Hopefully she will bring it back in the fall. Which will be here before we know it!

1 comment:

Terri D. said...

I loved reading this TBT story and seeing the well-documented photos! Love her big smile!!! Thanks for sharing!