COLUMBIA CITY — Churubusco was well-represented in the Large Animal Round Robin at the Whitley County 4-H Fair last week.
The most prestigious show of fair week — the top showmen from each large animal breed competing — had two local showmen: Mallory Johnson and Julia Gaerte.
Gaerte, who represented the sheep club, was the youngest of the contestants, a fifth-grader. Though she was a “little nervous” about competing against the more experienced showmen, she was excited to have the chance.
“It was awesome to be out with the best showmen in the county,” Gaerte said.
Gaerte has sheep at home and says she spends a lot of time with them. She felt most comfortable showing the beef during the contest.
Johnson represented the beef club, and also shows hogs and dairy feeder steers. She will be an incoming freshman at Churubusco High School this fall and is a six-year 4-H member. This was her first experience in the Round Robin.
“I was a little nervous, but once I got into it I was fine,” she said.
Though the local showmen didn’t win the title, they do have several years left to attempt to win the contest.
Kayla Schipper won the title in the highly competitive event.
Schipper was the Large Animal Round Robin champion after a long afternoon of showing horses, dairy, sheep, swine, beef, dairy steer and dairy steer feeder calves — competing against the showmanship winners of each species.
Schipper is a nine-year 4-H member and represented the dairy feeder calves. She also shows pigs and she used to show goats, rabbits and beef, which has helped her develop into a quality showman.
“I’ve had a lot of practice,” Schipper said.
Schipper’s father, Cory, was also a 10-year 4-H member. She attends Whitko High School.
“I’ve been around livestock since I was little,” Schipper said. “I’ve had a lot of practice.” — as did the other contestants.
Judge Tom Yount, of Fishers, spoke highly of the contestants and the stiff competition.
“Whoever is champion, I can’t go wrong,” Yount said. “Every one of these kids is awesome. You guys are good. I guarantee if you don’t win today, when you go to your next judging contest, you’ll win. It’s one person’s opinion on one day. Some days it’s the luck of the draw on the animal you get. Some days you’re feeling it and some days you’re not.
“You have six people out here representing your county and you couldn’t ask for any more than what they’ve done from top to bottom.”
The judge, who wasn’t responsible for compiling results, said he didn’t even know who the final winner would be due to how close the contest was.
“Every showman was amazing,” Schipper said. “I was surprised I won. I couldn’t be more proud to be from Whitley County.”
Schipper said she felt most comfortable showing in the beef show, and struggled more with the sheep and dairy classes.
Schipper’s name will be added to the board in the show barn, among Whitley County’s best showmen.
Also competing in the contest were: Robby Sheets, Mallory Johnson, Julia Gaerte, Tegan Ross and Cassie Gebert.