(Gaylen Blosser photo)

Inside The Great Darke County Fair animal departments

GREENVILLE— Every animal department at The Great Darke County Fair is a little bit different. Each barn has its own set of members, 4-H clubs, families and culture.

(L-R) CANINE – Naomi Hathaway, RABBIT – Mollie Case

Mollie

4-H Club: Ansonia 4-H

Age: 17

Naomi

4-H Club: Canine Capers

Age: 17

We caught up with Naomi and Mollie as they trained for the Showman of Showmen contest. Both will compete in it later this week. The Showman of Showmen includes the best showman from each department. After winning best showman, they must learn how to show every department, and compete against all of the different winners from each department.

Naomi, who shows dogs, was getting some help from Mollie on rabbits.

Mollie said one of the hard parts about Showman of Showmen is that kids that are used to large animals often have trouble handling smaller ones.

“The hardest thing is that some kids from the bigger departments, like cows, they don’t really know how to handle the smaller animals, like chickens and rabbits,” she said. “It might be harder for them, who don’t have multiple animals in different departments.”

Mollie said the thing she needed to work on the most before the competition is backing up the horse.

Naomi added that she needed to focus on knowledge.

“Both rabbits and chickens are mainly knowledge,” she said. “Everything else, you have to show off the animal.”

The Showman of Showmen competition is on Thursday, August 25. It will start in the horse arena at noon.

POULTRY – Blake, Olivia and Evan Addis

Blake

4-H Club: Blue Angels 4-H Club

Age: 16

Alivia

4-H Club: Darke County Beef

Age: 14

Evan

4-H Club: Blue Angels 4-H Club

Age: 12

You know an Addis bird when you see one. If you happen to be in the poultry barn and are looking, just try and find the cages with cute decorations, and signage around them. Not only do the cages look great, but the birds do pretty good too. Just before we caught up with the siblings, Alivia’s turkey won grand champion and first overall, Blake’s bird won reserve and Evan’s took fourth place.

Alivia said she likes to get competitive with her brothers.

“I like to compete against my siblings, and get some bragging rights,” she said.

The family brought somewhere between 45 and 75 birds to the fair, there was a debate as to how many, and have about 100 at home. They got started in poultry through a friend of their mother’s about eight years ago.

Other than poultry, Alivia likes to play volleyball, basketball and is in the Butterfly Garden Club. Blake likes to play basketball, run track and works at a cemetery. In his free time, Evan likes to play basketball and video games.

HORSE – Kaylee Schlechty

4-H Club: Buckeye Buckaroos

Age: 11

Probably two hours before we stopped by Kaylee’s stall, she found out she won Showman of Showmen. She said out of all the animals she has to learn before the competition on Thursday, she looking forward to learning how to show cows.

“I think cows are kind of cool,” she said. “I feel like it’s kind of similar to horses a little bit, so I feel like it will be easier to learn.”

Kaylee started showing horses when she was about 5 years old. She also shows pigs, but said with horses you’re able to form a bond.

“Pigs, the sad part is that they have to go to the butcher,” she said. “I feel like I can’t form a connection with them, because I feel like then they have to be sent away. But these [horses], I feel like I can form a connection with them.”

Another thing she likes about showing horses — are all of the friends she’s made along the way.

“I kind of get to hang out with my horse family, and my horse friends,” she said. “I love competing against them but everyone helps each other. When we compete it’s a really friendly competition.”

Outside of horses, Kaylee likes to play basketball, create art and make crafts.

The Showman of Showmen competition is on Thursday, August 25. It will start in the horse arena at noon.

 

SHEEP – Alexis Wilcox

4-H Club: Livestock and General

Age: 18

We caught up with Alexis on her second-to-last day of showing lambs at the fair. She started showing cows when she was six years old, and started showing sheep three years ago.

Being in 4-H all those years taught Alexis how to work hard, she said.

“It’s taught me work ethic,” she said. “It’s given me a lot of friendships with people I don’t normally see everyday. It just gives you a lot of responsibility.”

Alexis added that it will be weird to not show next year.

“It’s really sad,” she said. “This is my whole life. My cousins show pigs and stuff, but we don’t have anyone else showing sheep. Some of our friends that helped us raise the sheep, she’s younger so I’ll be able to watch her show.”

On Friday, she will celebrate her 18th birthday, and move into the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind. to study sonography.

BEEF – Addi Marker

4-H Club: Livestock and General

Age: 15

Addi came to the fair with her two sisters, mom, grandpa and grandma and two aunts. The Bennett’s, her mother’s side of the family has shown cattle since her mother was in 4-H, about 40 years ago.

“It brings our family closer together,” Addi said. “It’s always been a good family tradition.”

Not only have they shown for a long time, but they’re not bad either. Addi had won grand champion and reserve at the 2022 Darke County Born and Bred cattle show.

Her family’s farm breeds their cattle all on their own, on their farm in Ansonia. Marker added that she plans to pursue agriculture as career just as her family has.

DAIRY – Stacie Schmitmeyer

4-H Club: 4-H Holstein

Age: 9

Stacie, a rookie-showman, was about to show in her second show ever, in her very first fair, when we caught up with her.

So far, she said she loves to walk in the cows, because “it’s fun.”

She’s the youngest out of nine kids, two boys and seven girls, and was all smiles when she discussed it finally being her turn to show.

Stacie is at the fair showing for the Francis family.

 

GOAT – Hayden Miller

4-H Club: Ansonia Animal

Age: 16

We met up with Hayden, who’s showed animals since he was four, just as he was having some down time with his goats.

He said he likes 4-H because he likes to get the opportunity to get to take care of his animals.

This year, Hayden will show three goats.

He added that while at first it’s hard, after a while it gets easier to take care of them.

SWINE – Shyann Mckenna

4-H Club: Darke County Swine

Age: 12

A typical day for Shyann when training her three pigs consists of getting up early to walk them.

“I have to get them up, and walk them down the driveway and back,” she said. “I will spray them off when they get back. I’ll put them in the pasture and let them run around for a little bit, then I put them back in their pin.”

She said one of her favorite things about showing is spending time with her pigs.

“I like getting to know them,” Shyann said. “You’re with them everyday.”

Outside of pigs, Shyann likes to play basketball and softball.

Abigail Miller / Editor

Abigail Miller is a Greenville native, Kent State graduate, writer, shopaholic and friend. Contact Darke County Now Reporter Abigail Miller at amiller@darkecountynow.com.

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