Thursday, August 19th, 2010
By Betty Lawrence
4-H club members show skills at animal handling
  More than two dozen 4-H club members took turns showing four animals (beef, dairy, sheep and swine) Wednesday afternoon at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in the Showman of Showmen competition.
When the dust cleared, two young ladies captured the top award, considered the creme de la creme title for showing fair animals.
Jodi Otte of Maria Stein, a member of the Cassella Buckeyes 4-H Club, captured the senior division and Taylor Guggenbiller of Fort Recovery, a member of the Barnyard Boosters 4-H Club, took the junior division.
One by one, and sometimes in groups, the young competitors took turns demonstrating their skills at handling the animals.
"You are supposed to keep your eye on the judge all the time, so you know what she wants you to do," explained Jay and Norma Hein of Celina, whose daughter, Marlene, 17, was competing.
The judge bases the score on how well the animals are groomed, handled and shown.
Marlene Hein normally shows dairy, her parents said, but presenting the various animals showcases the talents of the contestants.
  "They ask friends who show the other animals if they can show their animals for the competition," Norma Hein said.
In this competition, the animals are not familiar to the trainer and the trainer is not used to the animal, making for an entertaining competition.
"It gets pretty chaotic out there (show ring) at times," Jay Hein added.
The contest is a good way for the 4-Hers to mingle with other club members, added Norma Hein.
Penny Rauch, of Coldwater, watched as her 15-year-old daughter, Mikayla, competed in the junior division for the first time.
She is a member of the Mercer Choice Livestock 4-H club.
"Mikayla just likes the challenge. She got the showmanship award for her pig and sheep entries and the herdsman award earlier. We're really proud. She has had a good year," Rauch said.
"This contest is really fun to watch and the kids learn so much by working with the other animals."
Revealing a trick of the trade, Penny added, "Pigs have a sweet tooth and Mikayla used marshmallows when working with her pig. It helped a lot."
As the contestants paraded their sheep for the judge there was a whole lot of baaing going on but the handlers kept a deft hand on their sometimes balky charges.The 4-Hers also had their hands full trying to keep their respective hog from making a mad dash for the exit gate. A soft touch by a wooden cane helped keep the not-so-litte piggies in line.
Guggenbiller said she placed 7th overall in last year's contest.
"This was my second year competing in this contest and I'm really happy, but surprised. I didn't think I would do well," Guggenbiller said after accepting the award. She is the daughter of Daryl and Kathleen Guggenbiller of Fort Recovery.
Otte, the daughter of Charlie and Kathy Otte of Maria Stein, also said she was very surprised at taking the top award in the senior division.
"I have learned so much by doing this. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun too," she said.
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