One couldn’t stop smiling. The other cried tears of joy.
But both winners worked hard to be the best of the best at the Jackson County Fair.
After winning master showman titles in their respective livestock breeds earlier in the week, Izzy Stanfield, 11, of Seymour and Kaylee Branaman, 17, of Brownstown took home the top titles of supreme showmen Friday night.
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The Supreme Showman event forces each 4-H member to step out of their comfort zone and show seven different breeds of farm animals. The lineup included swine, beef, dairy beef, sheep, boer goats, dairy cattle and for the first time, dairy goats.
In the junior division, there were five competitors. They were Stanfield, Brooklyn Bottorff of Tampico, Will Hackman of Seymour, Jenna Klosterman of Dudleytown and Charlie Hackman of Seymour.
This was just the second time the Junior Supreme Showman title has been awarded.
Stanfield’s smile stretched from ear to ear as she accepted her trophy from Samantha Huls, Jackson County’s first supreme showman back in 2007.
Although she has been showing animals at the fair since she was just 5, Stanfield said she relied on the advice of older and more experienced exhibitors to get her ready for Friday’s show.
“I asked a lot of questions about the breeds I wasn’t familiar with,” she said.
The animal that proved the most challenging for Stanfield was dairy cattle.
“My heifer kept running me into the gate,” she said.
A total of seven youth took part in the Senior Supreme Showman Contest. They were Branaman, Lillie Wessel of Seymour, Evan Vehslage of Seymour, Kiley Sons of Tampico, Ryland Nierman of Brownstown, Colin Downing of Vallonia and Kylee Wischmeier of Brownstown.
Branaman has been in 4-H for nine years and used to show sheep and pigs. Last year, she won junior showmanship and reserve senior showmanship in beef.
She cried as family and friends entered the show arena to hug and congratulate her.
“It has always been my favorite part of the fair because it showcases how I behave with my animal, not just the quality of my animal,” she said of showmanship.
Although she is familiar with showing several different species, Branaman said competing in the Supreme Showman event is still a challenge.
“The hardest part about it is staying calm regardless of how the animal you are given is acting since they are animals you have never worked with,” she said.
The most difficult animal for Branaman to show during the competition was the sheep.
“It would not walk well for me, and it did not want to brace,” she said.
While walking the different animals around the show arena, Branaman said she was constantly thinking about how each animal was set up and how it was behaving. She also focused on judge Kyle Jacobs of Shirley, Indiana.
“I was constantly telling myself to not let my frustration with the animal show through and to let that animal look the best it possibly could,” she said.
When it comes to experience, Branaman is not lacking as she has grown up on a farm.
“Since I was 5 years old, I have been in the barn, helping my sister, brother, cousin as well as friends we met through the industry with their animals,” she said.
She credits her family for helping her accomplish her goals.
“If it weren’t for my brother and sister making the experience fun and teaching me the things I know now, I wouldn’t be the showman I am today,” she said. “My uncle, David, has also been a big supporter of my family and I. He helped rope me in from Day 1.”
Branaman said it’s important to prepare for the Supreme Showman contest and to seek out advice and help from others more knowledgeable, such as family members and other 4-H members.
“After we talked it over a bit, I would practice with the animals myself and have the person helping walk around the show ring as if they were the judge and give me pointers on things I need to improve on,” she said.
Another reason showmanship is challenging is because of the high level of competition, she added.
“I am always amazed by the talent that each representative brings,” she said. “I have always looked up to the people that stand in that ring because it takes hard work, dedication, persistence and passion for 4-H.”
Her advice to the up-and-coming showmen is to always stay calm, regardless of how an animal is acting, and not to be afraid of the bigger animals.
“Take charge of the situation, seek out advice from experienced showmen and always take the opportunity to be in that ring,” she said. “Showmanship starts the first time you walk in that ring, not just in your showmanship class.”