County 4-H’ers win champion titles in final year at state fair


Maggie was seeking redemption.

Payton Farmer said she was nervous going into the 4-H senior beef showman competition at the Indiana State Fair because her heifer didn’t cooperate well during Junior Nationals.

Fortunately, Maggie came through to help Farmer earn grand champion in her 10th and final year of showing at the state fair as a Jackson County 4-H’er.

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“I take her out there and didn’t know if she got it all together or what finally, and everything finally clicked with us, and she acted amazing,” said Farmer, a 2019 graduate of Brownstown Central High School. “I could walk her right into it. We clicked.”

She also won reserve supreme champion heifer with her Maine, Coco, and reserve champion supreme showman from showing a pig, a sheep and a cow.

Ethan Wischmeier, who also graduated from Brownstown Central this year, had a solid final showing at the state fair as a 4-H’er, too. He was champion in Division II crossbred barrow and fourth overall crossbred barrow.

He said there were eight classes in his division with around 10 pigs in each class, so there were around 80 pigs in his division and four divisions total, which is about 320 pigs in the crossbred division.

“The barrow, after we got to the state fair, ate and drank very well, which is always a plus to helping make sure that he looks his best on show day,” Wischmeier said.

Payton Farmer

Farmer wrapped up her 10-year 4-H career as one of the most decorated showmen with cattle.

She said she has been grand champion or reserve champion Hereford for nine years and has been in the grand drive every year. Over the years, she went from winning junior showman to intermediate to senior.

Farmer also was grand champion senior beef showman in 2016 and was reserve champion in 2017.

With Maggie, Farmer won breed champion to advance to the senior showman competition.

She said showmanship is more important to her than the actual show because it’s about her working with her calf.

“That’s something that my family and I do a ton,” she said. “We wake up at 6 to put them in the barn, in the cooler, and then we rinse them twice a day. I work with them during that time, and then at 9 o’clock, we can turn them out because we’ve got to wait until the sun goes down just so they don’t lose their hair. That’s my whole summer from 6 to 9, and I don’t really have much time in between there.”

While it’s tough to tell her friends she can’t hang out until after she’s done with her work at 9:30 p.m., it’s worth it in the end when she’s rewarded for her efforts.

“We have our office where I can look at all these (awards over the years), and just to think back on all the time that I put into it, I’m just speechless,” Farmer said. “It’s amazing.”

Farmer later was back in the Indiana Farmers Coliseum with Coco. She was thrilled about winning reserve champion because Jackson County had a 1-2 showing with Clint Main, a junior at Brownstown Central High School, earning grand champion.

“It was crazy to go out that way because I don’t think I could have gone out any better. I couldn’t have asked for a better 10 years,” she said. “I’m not an emotional person at all. I don’t cry at funerals. I don’t cry at any of my senior stuff I had in the past. I do not cry, except when I was selected as reserve supreme heifer. The emotions got to me.”

Farmer wrapped up the state fair with supreme showmanship for the third time in her career. She was among the six competitors: Two from cattle, two from sheep and two from swine.

Each of them had to show a pig, a sheep and a cow that they had never worked with before.

“It’s totally different for me because I’m not like some other kids and I don’t show other species, so I had to put in the work all (the previous) week,” Farmer said. “I was always at someone’s house working with sheep, pigs, having people critique me.”

She wasn’t thrilled about starting the competition with a pig.

“I wish they would start off with cattle just so I could get my nerves out because I hate pigs. Pigs and me just don’t get along,” she said, smiling. “I can do sheep, and I can do cattle, but me and pigs, I just don’t have any control, and I hate not having any control.”

A cow was second, and the 4-H’ers wrapped up with a sheep.

“I know there’s a lot of kids that can’t even say that they’ve been in it, so I’m just blessed that I’ve been in it three times,” she said of supreme showmanship.

Farmer said it was great once again having her parents, Shannon and Jason Farmer, join her for the state fair experience.

“It’s so cool that I have two parents that are involved and as crazy about the industry as much as I am,” Payton said. “Not many families have their cattle at their house or say that they can do all of the work, and we are a family that can say that we did all of the work. At the end, especially being reserve heifer, I can say that my family and I had done all of the work, and to watch that pay off in the end was the biggest.”

Now, Farmer is heading to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to become a dental hygienist. She can show cattle at Junior Nationals and other national shows until she’s 22.

“Even after my 22 years are done, that’s what dental hygiene is going to give me is the flexibility to still do it in my own life because I have enough cattle and my family has always raised and sold show cattle, and so I’ll continue to do that,” Farmer said.

Ethan Wischmeier

It was a family affair for Wischmeier at the state fair.

He said barrows and gilts show two different weekends. The barrows were the first weekend, and the family arrived on a Thursday morning and showed Sunday. The gilt show was the following weekend, and they arrived Thursday morning and showed Saturday and Sunday.

They took six barrows to the state fair. One of Ethan’s brothers, Owen, was third overall with his Chester barrow. Four crossbred barrows were shown on another day, and that’s when Ethan won his division and was fourth overall.

“I’ve been to the state fair the past six years. I’ve never won before but have been fortunate to have done really well throughout the years,” he said.

The second weekend, they showed a Duroc gilt that won her class and was fourth overall in her division. At the Jackson County Fair, Wischmeier won grand champion gilt.

“It was awesome,” he said of following that up with a strong showing at the state fair. “Me and my brothers spent countless hours every day in the barn, and I am glad it paid off.”

Wischmeier said he was happy about getting another opportunity to show at the state fair as a 4-H’er.

“It’s very competitive, and the quality of livestock is second to none,” he said. “It allows you to meet different people and learn new things every year.”

Even though he’s done with 4-H, he plans to help his younger brothers, Eli, 15, Owen, 11, and Lucas, 5.

“I have learned so much by being in the show pig industry, and it is something that I am very passionate about,” he said. “I am going to continue helping my brothers with their pigs and stay active in the show pig industry for many years to come.”

He is starting his first year at Purdue University, where he is studying agricultural economics with plans to pursue a career in agriculture.

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