This year’s premier showmanship award at the Watonwan County Fair was captured July 19 by Kaleb Schwarz, 17, Vernon Center, who rode his excellence in the beef category to a comfortable victory over six other finalists.

Schwarz “won very quite a few points,” said Judge Scott Place.

This award is like the decathlon, as it tests every part of someone’s skill set. They need to show pigs, sheep, goats, beef, rabbits, poultry, and dairy, and--whoever is best in all categories--is the all-around winner. Each of the finalists July 19 was champion of one of those individual categories, but they then needed to demonstrate at least competence--both in handling and in subject knowledge--of all the other animals. A contestant might excel in one or two of those areas--say, beef and poultry--but be unseasoned in other areas--like, say, goats and rabbits. Yet, they need to persevere.

Schwarz said his specialties are beef and sheep, but goats and rabbits were his biggest challenge, due to lack of familiarity. He’s already been showing animals at this fair for nearly a decade, so he’s certainly a veteran.

“That’s the hard part, showing animals that aren’t your specialty,” said Cara Teigum, who worked with beef, rabbits, and llamas at this year’s fair. “It’s a really big opportunity and honor to be in this competition; if you win this, it’s a big deal.”

In fact, most of the students at the fair don’t even bother competing with or showing all the animals. They usually stick to only one, two, or three areas.

For the rest of this story, please pick up a copy of the July 24 print edition of the St. James Plaindealer.