Best of the best

Between sketching out diagrams of a chicken in their notebook to taking notes from a friend on a dairy cow, the top showmen at the Auglaize County Fair tried to learn how to show other animals in less than a week.

The Showman of Showmen Sweepstakes yielded its typical eight contestants competing for the title of top showman at the fair.

At the end of the evening, Sheep showman Ali Muir was crowned with the title of Showman of Showmen after an evening of her showing seven different animals. Each contestant was awarded the maximum points for their area of expertise.

“I was happy,” Muir said, right after she was announced winner of the competition. “I was very surprised. The other kids worked so hard.”

The Waynesfield All Around Livestock 4-H Club member said she enjoyed getting to know the other top showmen who competed on Thursday evening in the Show Barn, and she was proud of everyone, as they all put in long hours of studying and practicing for this event.

“We all supported each other, and helped each other out,” Muir said.

“This was a great group and I met a lot of new friends.”

Muir, who was the top showman in sheep, along with Maddy Paul, in rabbits, Brad Hogshead, in poultry, Lidia Turner, for market steer, Aprille Steinke, for dairy cow, Cole Brooks, in horses, RaNae Bornhorst, in swine, and Shannon Fledderjohann, in goats, all took time this week to practice showing the other seven animals outside their expertise — which some knew nothing about showing them — on Thursday for the judges in each category.

Muir, who showed beef two years ago, was excited to participate in the Showmanship Sweepstakes.

“Altogether, it was a lot of fun,” Muir said. “It was a blast.”

Muir found out two days ago she was going to be competing in this event and said she spent those two days studying and talking with other 4-H club members and friends on the seven animals she was to show.

Judges in each category watched how each contestant handled their animals, along with asking general questions on anatomy of the animal.

“The hardest part was the small animals,” Muir said of showing the a chicken and a rabbit. “I’m not used to them.”

But the showmen worked together to learn as much information as they could on the other animals prior to the event.

“I went to each person that won a different species for help,” Muir said of her fellow contestants. “We all worked together.”

Muir said she had a great support system with her fellow contestants.

“Aprille, me and Cole worked together today and last year’s champion (Kaylee Fisher) showed me how to show a dairy cow,” Muir said.

During the beef showing portion of the contest, Muir said she struggled a bit.

“My beef steer would not cooperate,” Muir said, “but I stayed calm.”

Staying calm was the only thing she could do to get her beef steer to calm down.

Her sister, Candace, who won the Showman of Showmen Sweepstakes in 2009, was cheering for her younger sister during the competition.

“She’s a good showman,” Candace said, after the competition. “She did really well. She probably had the toughest steer out there because it kept circling around.”

Candace said she was proud of her sister and noted she worked with her a bit, but it was all her.

“She knows her stuff,” Candace said.

Between the beef steers who would not stand still and the goats who made loud noises in the ring, each contestant was challenged on not only their knowledge on other animals, but for their showmanship skills.

“I think everyone is doing well,” Bornhorst said, while she was sitting out during her event — swines.

Each contestant sat out their own event, since they already aced the showmanship portion in that event earlier this week, but they had the chance to observe the others showing their animal.

“All they have to do is try,” Bornhorst said. “That’s what all of us are doing.”

Hogshead, who showed poultry, said the judge will ask the contestant general questions about the chickens that were presented.

“It’s very nerve racking,” Hogshead said, “but it’s a fun experience. I went to friends of mine who showed other animals to help me.”

“Overall, things are going well,” Steinke said, while she was sitting out during the dairy judging. “Some of the people came and asked me about my animal.”

For Steinke, the most difficult animals to show were rabbits and chickens because she is not used to showing small animals.

But Muir said it best, when she said practice makes perfect.

“Dedication and hard work equals success,” Muir said.