EATON — This year, during the Preble County Fair, 123 junior fair exhibitors got the chance to try their hands at judging — instead of showing — livestock. The first ever General Livestock Judging Contest was held on Thursday, Aug. 2.
The event, which officials hope to make an annual one, was sponsored by Eaton MVCTC FFA, Monroe Better Livestock, National Trail MVCTC FFA, National Trail FFA Alumni, Preble County Pork Festival, Preble County Smokeout, Preble Shawnee FFA, Preble Shawnee FFA Alumni, RC Show Cattle, Sunglo, Tri-County North MVCTC FFA, Twin Valley South MVCTC FFA, and Twin Valley South FFA Alumni.
An anonymous donor donated two gift cards and two contestants were selected at random. The recipients of the gift card were Ashley Green and Brooke Groh.
“We are doing our first annual Preble County Livestock Judging Contest. Any Preble County youth are eligible. There are eight classes: two cattle classes, two hog classes, two sheep classes, and two goats classes. The individuals from different FFA and 4-H Clubs go in and evaluate the livestock and try to sort them from best to least desirable,” parent volunteer Mindy Ward explained.
“There are a lot of contest throughout the State of Ohio and nationally too. We thought it would be a great opportunity to get the young kids involved in livestock, because there are a lot of FFA Chapters and 4-H Clubs that do have livestock judging. We wanted to generate some interest and get them involved. We want to teach them to evaluate livestock better, because they are showing livestock.
“It is important for them to pick out good animals, but they also learn to be better livestock exhibitor and promote better livestock within their county. The kids are judged on how well they place the classes. We also have officials go in and place the classes. Then, the kids put their placing on and we compare them to the official placings. Thursday is a down day at the fair for a lot of the kids, so we thought it would be a great day to bring them in with another activity.”
Top ten individuals ranking four through ten received an embroidered blanket. Those contestants included: Dawson Ward (10th), Olivia Baumann (9th), Hannah Lee (eighth), Andrew Brooks (seventh), Macel Stowers (sixth), Samantha Nuse (fifth), and Chelsea Cruze (fourth).
“I felt pretty good going into the competition and I thought it was a very well thought out program that we put on,” Dawson Ward said. “I thought the classes were pretty difficult, but I liked it because it stimulated my brain. I think this is a good program because it gets the younger kids to experience the industry a lot more and they get to have fun as well.”
Top three individuals received belt buckles. Those winners were Addie Anspaugh (third), Wyatt House (second), and Skyler Ward (first).
“I wasn’t nervous going into it, but I wasn’t confident,” Skyler Ward said. “I’ve done this before. I was surprised when I got overall individual. When I get older i want to judge shows, specifically cattle.”
The third place team was from Jackson Young Farmers and included: Olivia Baumann, Bailey Jerdon, Ali Mowen, and Brooke Caplinger. The reserve champion team included Aiden Koehl, Mason Rowe, Alysa Sorrell, and Alli Wetzel.
The first place and champion general livestock team was from National Trail MVCTC FFA Chapter and included Skyler Ward, Macel Stowers, Hannah Lee, and Dawson Ward.
After winning, Stowers said, “For the judging contest I was on a livestock team at school and my teachers always hassled me about needing to be on the team, because they always told me I was good, but I’m really hard on myself. I decided to do it and ended up getting sixth place overall out of 123. I was really happy because I take a lot of pride out of showing my animals. I’ve never done the best, I’ve never won grand champion, but when I won this it was the first thing I’ve won all week.”
“It was kind of weird [being the judge],” Stowers said. “I am the Pork Queen, so I hand out all the awards at the pork shows, so when I’m handing out ribbons I always put myself in the judges position and always have said that I would hate to have to crush a child’s dream and make a child’s dream. It is a thing in the middle, but it would mess with my head, because I would be upset for the kids that didn’t win.
“Being on the outside made me realize that it isn’t about the kid, it is more about what you’ve raised. If you place someone lower in a class than they hoped, it gives them more drive to win. I know that is what it does for me. A lot of fairs actually do livestock contests, so it is something new for us. It gives us another chance to compete and brought us together to show that we do good inside the ring and out of it.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH