by Sarah Einselen Pharos-Tribune
---- — A longtime 4-H member earned top showmanship honors Friday, in a competition organizers say fosters cooperation and leadership.
Beef showman Ross Helms won the Premier Showmanship competition at the Cass County Fair Friday night. The seven-year 4-H member from Deer Creek was judged the best showman out of the seven competitors who had won top showmanship honors in each animal division earlier in the fair.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Ross, as friends and fellow 4-H’ers flocked to congratulate him at the close of the competition shortly before 10 p.m. Friday.
He drew on his extensive experience to prepare to show the animals, he said — he’d shown animals in six of the seven animal divisions in previous years, including two different animal categories this year alone.
But just to make sure, Ross asked for guidance from other 4-H’ers in the days before the showmanship competition.
“I just went around to other barns and had people help me,” he said.
He wasn’t the only one. First-time showman Dakota Prilaman, a 15-year-old horsewoman who’s in her fourth year in 4-H, had never shown any other animals of her own besides her horse.
She spent Thursday and Friday asking other 4-H’ers to show her the best way to show cows and steers, sheep, goats and swine. In addition, she had a crash course in details about each animal, such as the kind of feed it needs and market prices for different meats.
At the end of the night, Dakota said the two-hour show had been “really scary.”
“The cows were really big,” she explained. But she appreciated how the showmanship competition “gives you a feel of how everyone shows their animal.”
The point of showmanship, explained Extension Educator Lynn Korniak, one of the leaders of 4-H in Cass County, is to present the animal at its best — and that means knowing the ideal stance to show off an animal’s characteristics as well as learning how to stay out of a judge’s way as the judge inspects an animal.
“You don’t want to be noticed,” Korniak said.
The bleachers were nearly full as the competition began. Korniak said that had been the case in many of the show’s previous 11 years.
“This is a fun event because they’re a little out of their comfort zone,” Korniak explained. And because of that, the 4-H’ers have usually asked others for help preparing, as Ross and Dakota did. “So it’s leadership — kids helping kids.”
And the show brings together 4-H’ers who may otherwise interact little, added competition co-chairman Mike Rose.
“I think probably the biggest part about it, for me, was seeing all the kids from all the different barns interact,” he said. It fosters a “camaraderie” among 4-H’ers who show different animals.
“It’s part of what 4-H is all about,” Rose said. “Not only learning all the things that 4-H teaches ... but making new friends, interacting with people.”
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.