CLAY CENTER — The senior division 4-H in Clay County is looking beyond the county competition and at the state level.
With a round robin showmanship competition and written test Saturday at the Clay County Fair, seven senior division 4-H competitors got some practice in for the Nebraska elite showman competition.
The fair hosted a round robin showmanship competition Saturday afternoon at the Clay County Fairgrounds. Grand champion and reserve champion in each animal showmanship competition were eligible to participate in the round robin.
In the round robin, exhibitors had three minutes to show either beef, sheep, goat, swine or horse. After the three minutes, they moved to the next animal until they showed all. The superintendent for each species judges the competitor on how they show each animal.
The round robin is designed to find exhibitors for the elite showman competition at the Nebraska State Fair, said Sarah Greer, one of the superintendents.
This year, the seven round robin exhibitors took a written exam instead of an oral exam, as they had in previous years. The written exam had five questions on each animal and no time limit. The elite showman competitors will take a written exam at state.
“I told extension office, ‘Tell the superintendents, we don’t want to lob any softballs.’ I want the questions to be harder. The kids should know this information,” Greer said. “And some of the questions I didn’t even know the answer to.”
Greer said that the prizes for the elite showmanship make the preparation worth it. She said there are thousands of dollars available in prize money and scholarships. Only one individual from each county can compete and ideally, the winner of the round robin would go. If the round robin winner doesn’t, the next person in line can.
“It’s really tough,” she said. “One of the reasons why we changed the oral test to a written test is we wanted to get the kids as well prepared for the state level so they can kind of know what to expect.
“We want to send them with the best chance that they can go to state and compete well and maybe win some scholarship money, maybe some prize money.”
Camden Humphrey, 16, took champion at the round robin on Saturday. He said he went to the elite showman competition last year and the competition level was high.
“They study for it like the ACT,” Camden said.
Part of the challenge from the round robin is that a competitor usually has experience showing a few animals and little to no experience showing others.
“For a majority of the kids, they all show different species or they’ve been showing since they were eight years old, so their skills and abilities have grown. So it should be a lot harder, it should be a challenge for them,” Greer said.
Riley Kroger, 17, said she mostly shows horses. She said she had trouble with the pig and cow during the round robin.
“I’ve never really had experience with a cow,” Riley said. “So it’s a lot different from a horse. With a horse you have to push it but with a cow you pull it around and I didn’t know that.”
Even though the round robin helps prepare some kids for the state competition, the kids help teach each other.
“The kids help each other out. The kids and parents help the exhibitors out so that they all kind of a basic knowledge,” Greer said. “It’s neat to see all the families help each other. The kids, they all want to do well.”
Connor Crumbliss, 17, used to show only horses, but started showing sheep after the round robin last year. He made it to the round robin by taking reserve champion for sheep this year. He said he got help from Greer for sheep and help showing other animals from his friends.
Connor said he preferred the written test over the oral test because he had more time to think about each answer.
“I think that’s easier because it gives us time instead of just putting us on the spot,” he said.
The exhibitors at the elite showmanship competition have to supply each livestock. For exhibitors that don’t have each of the animal species, they have to borrow another state fair exhibit animal. Horses aren’t shown at the elite competition. Additionally, anyone in Future Farmers of America or 4-H can compete.
The elite showman competition is Aug. 31 in Grand Island.