4-H is all about showmanship

Members prepare not only livestock, but also themselves

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Olivia Overholt of Salem goes in for a kiss with a goat at the Trumbull County Fair Thursday afternoon in Bazetta.

BAZETTA — The Trumbull County Fair is the ultimate test of a 4-H member’s work, but showmanship is the ultimate test of their show skills.

Luke Culp, 17, of Vienna, has been showing in his 4-H club, the Trumbull County Beef Boosters of Vienna, for eight years and has to prepare not only his steer Maverick, but also himself, for show this week.

In 4-H, the animals aren’t the only ones who get tested each show day. For 4-H exhibitors, show starts with showmanship, in which the members are judged based on their skills, not their animal’s.

Culp has experience in showmanship but said that he still gets nervous when going into show.

“I still have good and bad nerves,” Culp said. “But I think it’s beneficial because if you’re not nervous, you’re not on your toes in the ring.”

To combat his nerves and prepare himself for show, Culp listens to music and tries to get as calm as possible, blocking out competitors and fairgoers. The biggest help is working with your animal, and leading up to the fair, Culp said he works with his animals up to 45 hours per week.

“I look for a calf that I know will look good in the future,” Culp said. “We want them as tame as possible.”

Jake Osborn of Hillsboro was the judge for the beef cow open class and 4-H show.

“With any show, whether it’s cattle or chickens, we’re looking for hard work at home,” Osborn said.

As a judge, there are signs that show the level of skill that a showman has in being able to handle the animal or how well they know their animal.

“A 4-Her’s relationship with their animal is a sign,” said Osborn. “And so is the animal’s reaction to the showman.”

Showmanship is the competition for all 4-H members in their respective species, broken down into age groups. Each judge looks at how the competitor handles his / her animal, his / her comfort level in the show ring and with the animal, and his / her presentation. There are dress codes for each animal, and the cleanliness of an animal is considered.

These factors work in to your showmanship placement, and for Zac Logan, 18, of Badger, showmanship didn’t always come easy. Logan is a member of the dairy cow club Very Good Kow Growers of Lordstown. Through hard work and 11 years of experience, he’s been able to improve his showmanship skills enough to win his showmanship class.

“I watch other people and learn how they show to improve myself,” said Logan. “There’s ways to not show and ways to improve.”

Logan still has nerves, even after showing for so long, especially when being asked questions. Judges will ask 4-H members information about their animal, like date of birth or when they were bred.

Logan said he has learned to just wing it.