Cool, calm and collected.
Trenton Burton, 12, of Seymour was at least two of the three Thursday night when he made history at the Jackson County Fair.
After an hour of wrangling not one animal, not two animals, but six different animals, around the show arena, in front of judges and an audience, Burton was named the county’s inaugural 4-H Junior Supreme Showman.
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It was a big win that has encouraged him to stick with showmanship and poised him to compete for the title of Senior Supreme Showman in the future.
Emma Winks, 16, of Brownstown took home Senior Supreme Showman later that night after a grueling two-hour competition.
Other competitors in the junior division were Josie Dotts of Leesville, Myra Davidson of Seymour, Collin Downing of Medora, Chandler Stahl of Brownstown and Addison Darlage of Seymour. Each competitor got the opportunity to take part in the Junior Supreme Showman event after winning junior showman titles in their respective animal species.
Senior competitors were Winks, Ethan Wischmeier of Brownstown, Clint Main of Seymour, Ryland Nierman of Brownstown, Kristen Stuckwisch of Brownstown and Austin Branaman of Medora.
Burton represented dairy beef, but in order to be the best of the best, he had to use his knowledge and skills to show swine, sheep, goats, dairy cattle and beef cattle, too.
Used to the size and temperament of cows, Burton said it was the most difficult to show goats.
“They wouldn’t stop moving around,” he said.
But by keeping a level head and not getting frustrated with the animals, he was able to show the judges a high level of comfort and confidence in the show arena.
And when the judges talked, he listened.
“I just want to be able to get better,” he said.
This marked the fourth year he has shown dairy beef. He credits his mom for passing along the interest in 4-H and in showing animals to him.
“My mom did it, and I thought I would like it,” he said.
Overall, the experience was one he said he will never forget.
“It’s a lot of fun but hard work, too,” he said.
Winks has been showing horses at the fair for the past eight years and boer goats for five.
But having to show other animals was a completely new experience for her.
“At first, I was really nervous because it was way out of my comfort zone. I had never shown any of the other animals,” Winks said. “But I got into a groove and just did what my friends had taught me.”
Unlike the dairy beef and beef showmen representatives who didn’t know they would compete in the supreme showman competition until Thursday morning, Winks won the boer goat showmanship competition Monday.
“So I had a lot of time to practice,” she said.
But she was still very surprised to hear she had won.
With its size and weight, the dairy cattle was the most difficult for her to show, she said.
“It kind of beat me up,” she said. “It pushed me up against the fence a lot. Most animals are bigger than me, but I just take it with a grain of salt, do my best, stay safe and let it play out.”
Linda Myers, 4-H fair board committee member, said by having a junior supreme showman competition, the fair has started a new tradition.
The idea came from a conversation she had with a former Jackson County 4-H member.
“Last year after the supreme show, I had a former contestant come up and say, ‘I’ve judged this show over at Lawrence County,’ and he said, ‘I wish I could judge more shows,’” Myers said.
She agreed and said she would like to see the fair offer a supreme showman event for younger competitors.
This past winter, Myers contacted the Indiana 4-H Council to ask if other counties had junior supreme showman events.
“They have other counties with similar shows, but there’s no show that’s going to be quite like this,” she said.
Myers had to run the idea by the fair livestock committee and the 4-H Council to get it approved.
“They said, ‘Write up some rules, Linda,’ so I wrote up some rules,” she said.
The competition is identical to the senior supreme show, just on a smaller scale. Instead of being in the ring with each species for 15 minutes, the junior competitors, who can range in age from third to eighth grade, spent eight to 10 minutes showing each animal.
“This brings the livestock exhibitors closer together. You have a friend showing dairy beef and you’re in the swine department, so you run and go find them to get pointers,” she said.
Each competitor also had to take a quiz beforehand identifying and explaining different pieces of equipment used to show animals, and they had to introduce themselves to the crowd.
It was easy to find judges for the new junior supreme showmanship event. Myers turned to former Jackson County Supreme Showmen contestants from the past 10 years.
Those accepting the call to judge were Kyle Benter, Derek Rieckers, Miranda Stuckwisch, Abby Price, Ryan Benter and Samantha Huls. Huls was Jackson County’s first supreme showman back in 2007 and won again in 2008.
Huls presented Burton with his trophy and plaque.
“It allows them to gain experience in judging and have something to put in their resume, and I don’t have to pay them anything,” Myers said.
The supreme showman events also are great for youth to watch to see if they might be interested in showing animals at the fair some day, she added.