IONIA – The most famous and nerve-wracking competition at the Ionia Free Fair is when the contestants who have already won in the different animal categories come together and learn how to show all 11 fair animals.
It’s called a “lottery”, and winning this competition is very difficult.
“The lottery is the big event at the end of the fair,” explained Ionia County Coordinator John Duvall. “The basic concept is to find the best showman in all areas of the species, so that they get the one who won the showman of every kind to compete. It takes a lot of skill to be able to do a good job. There are a lot of different factors because they work with all different animals. At the same time. They have a little time to prepare, but that’s part of it. Children of different species are encouraged to reach out for tips on showing other animals.”
The 11 animals involved are dairy cows, calves, dog, goats, chickens, sheep, horse, pigs, rabbits, poultry, and cafés.
“There are judges for each species separately, who put everyone into different groups based on their age, and there is a group that shows each type, and then the trumpet sounds and they go on to the next genres,” Duval said. “It’s a kind of crazy event, and it definitely looks like the height of competition for the show.”
“It was very difficult and I was nervous,” said 10-year-old Intermediate lottery winner Alex Thomas of Saranac. “To win the lottery, I first had to win in my class as an average, and only show dairy goats. Then I spent three or four days at the fair, so I walked around with other people who won and studied their animals. I went to some of my friends who show the pigs. They knew how They control a boar, how they show a boar and that you have to catch it a certain way.Every animal is a little different so it’s really helpful to get as much knowledge as possible.Then I had to go to the lottery and show all these animals, and I only really knew how to show a goat. dairy.”
Young champion Evan Ferris of Lyon (who goes to school in Portland) earned a spot in the lottery with his 600-pound mentor.
“I had literally three days to learn all these things about how to show 11 animals,” Ferris said. “Whatever animal you win, you have to allow others to appear.”
“I was familiar with many species, but never exercised the small animals,” said senior champ Cassidy Kachin, 17, of Hubbardston. “We owned rabbits for fun, as pets, but I had never seen a hutch or rabbits or chickens, so those rabbits were very new to me. Trying to learn 11 species, some of which I have no familiarity with and have no idea how to show, I have It made me nervous at first! But things went really well and I ended up really well. I found some really great people to help me who knew what they were doing and knew how to help someone who hadn’t done it before, and they simplified it very well.”
This guide piece is one of the most satisfying and important aspects of participating in 4-H.
“When I first started, I didn’t know a group. You don’t know much when you start,” Kashin said. “Also, it has changed a lot since my mom was showing off when she was younger—even the styles of the sheep you buy now are different. It is very important that you learn everything you can learn, all the basics, like feeds and supplements, and build your confidence to go out there and own the ring. If you are a beginner who has never seen it before, you (your peers) can help you with the basics. If you’re ahead, they can pick every little thing to make sure you’ll be at your best and have the confidence and intensity to be on top of the class.
“When I show, I stress easily, so before I go inside, I have to take a breath, relax for a minute and just say, ‘Okay, it’s not the end of the world, it’s all right! “
Thomas shared: “I had a girlfriend Laura who was much older, she was in my goat club, and she was so helpful and kind.” “My cousins show sheep, so I knew more about sheep, because I go to their places a lot and help with the sheep. They taught me how to show them and how to carry them. I also helped guide three or four youngsters who were in their prime. Knowing your goats and showing confidence is a big part. The more afraid you are the more afraid the animal. Also tell them that even if it gets hard, keep going. Because sometimes it gets hard and you have to keep trying.”
“My advice is to watch others, and keep an eye on children who are older than you,” Kachin noted. “You don’t have to imitate every little thing they do, you take bits and pieces of each, and you put them together and make your own. Also, you don’t win the showmanship in the yard, you win the showmanship in your barn because you do the work at home. Then all you do in the yard is To show the judges all the hard work you’ve done in your fold.And as you continue to appear and grow, remember that you are the child who has just begun, and how awed you felt.
“You want to be an encouraging and positive person for these young children, because it’s kind of scary when you start out,” Cashin added. “So when you get older, be that kid who cheers them up and say, ‘Hey, you did a really good job there!”
“This year at the lottery, I’ve been thinking ‘I don’t belong here, I don’t deserve to be there,'” Thomas agreed. “I know a lot of people in my age group who are showrunners who I thought would beat me, and I thought I’d do something horrible. One of my older cousins sat me down and yelled at me because I’m thinking that way. He told me it was because I didn’t sleep much during the week because I was late for classes. He told me to go take a nap and then when he woke up he yelled at me even more, I think I was able to do that because he was hitting me inside as hard as I could! “
“I always try to stay really positive and tell everyone how good a job they did, because when I started, it meant a lot,” Cashin said. “Your situation remembers you. You say ‘good job’ to everyone in that arena, whether they’re first or last, whether they beat you or not, because everyone’s still doing a good job. They’re still going out there, they’re still trying and they’re still hanging on. It’s up there with some tough competition, and that’s huge. It takes a lot of work just to go to a one-day show.”
It’s a long and hard road to the sweepstakes, and it involves a dark early morning, hard work, bodily scars and a ridiculous amount of poo.
Thomas recounted that he fed his goats with dragonfly and hay every morning before school.
“I will sometimes offer a salt block, because Michigan goats need some nutrients and minerals that are not in their environment,” Thomas said. “I wash them once a week and cut their hooves. We also have to shave them once or twice a year when summer comes so they don’t get too hot, and you also have to shave the goats before they emerge. For me, the worst part is to shave their udders, because they don’t like that at all.”
Ferris also experienced several early morning feedings and waterings—about three pounds of grain per cow.
“Whether at night or in the afternoon, when I had the time, I would walk around with them,” Ferris said. “Before the fair we take them out and cut their hair the way they need to cut it. We usually do this a few nights before they’re ready to go in, and then we’ll wash them right before we take them to the fair. You have to be very consistent and you just have to work hard, and I’ve learned a lot from a lot.” of people.
“It took me years to realize you have to work, because sometimes I don’t work with them for a while, and I have scars all over my body from dragging a cow,” Ferriss added. “It takes a lot of work and it is not easy at all, but don’t give up. Even if it seems difficult, keep going. It will end well if you do your best and work hard.”
Kachin said time management is an important aspect of staying on top of things.
“I’m the kind of kid who wants to do everything,” Cashin said. “I’m like, ‘Oh, let’s try this and this and this and this!'” “I learned really time management, how to create a really nice schedule so that everything is arranged perfectly, so that I can still spend my time in the barn and can still make time for my animals. It is not fair to have an animal and not work with them.”
Duval noted that registration for 4-H opened on September 1 for the next year in the province of Ionia.
“4-H is the best way to learn life skills, because you learn through hands-on activities and interact with children outside of your school,” Duval said. “There’s a lot of community outreach doing the clubs and there really is something for everyone at 4-H. It’s not just about science and agriculture, you can do performing arts and robotics and whatever the members want.”
visit www.canr.msu.edu/ionia/ionia_county_4_h Online for more information about the 4-H program in Ionia Province.
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