Desiree Holton (second from right), this years Madison County Junior Fair Grand Showman of Showmen, gives pointers to rabbit exhibitors: (from left) Colton Forrest, 9, of Town and Country Kids 4-H; Paul Huff, 11, of CCC County Conservation 4-H; and Daniel Hiett, 12, of Barn Busters 4-H.
Even while she was the center of attention, Desiree Holton was thinking about the people who got her there.
On July 13, Holton was named the 2012 Madison County Junior Fair grand showman of showmen. The contest brings together the top senior showmen from all of the animal species. They rotate through stations, showing all eight animal types and answering judges questions. Holton qualified as the top rabbit showman.
“As much as Showman of Showmen is based on individual skill and knowledge, without the people who took time to help me, I would not have been able to accomplish this, she said.
The win came as a surprise for the 19-year-old, for whom this year was her last for 4-H eligibility. A member of the All That and a Bag of Shavings Club, Holton has participated in 4-H for 11 years.
“I had two goals going into the contest this year: to not get hurt and just to have fun, she said.I had won showmanship in my species, so the grand showman contest was a bonus. I didnt expect to win.
She was most nervous about the goat station because she had issues with it in 2010, the first time she qualified for grand showman of showmen. This time around, goats werent the problem. The feeder calf was.
“I was excited for it because I showed a steer at the fair last year, but I got a cow that did not want to walk and I didnt have the strength to get him to move, she said.
Despite the hiccup, the judges liked what they saw. When the announcement came, Holton said she put her face in her hands and immediately started crying. Soon after, family and friends who have helped her along the way lined up to congratulate her.
“I could see the pride in their eyes, she said.
She knows what it feels like from their side, too. For years, she has been paying it forward as a mentor to other animal exhibitors. Eight years ago, she struck up a friendship with a rabbit exhibitor from another club. They exchanged pointers over the years. Last year, he won senior rabbit showmanship.
“Even though I didnt get to be in the show, I was thrilled he was there, Holton said.
This year, she mentored a first-year rabbit showman from her own club. The girl ended up finishing fourth in a class of 18 entrants.
“Its gratifying to give others the confidence to do things theyre not sure they can do, Holton said.
A 2011 graduate of London High School, Holton is the daughter of Mike and Jackie Holton. This fall, she will be a sophomore at Bowling Green State University, where she is majoring in film production and minoring in telecommunications.
Other Junior Fair exhibitors who competed in the Grand Showman of Showmen contest were: Delanie Wiseman, swine and sheep, Willing Workers West 4-H; Molly Holt, goats, Madison-Plains FFA; Gerrett Davison, beef, Green Range 4-H; Brittnie Blackman, equine, Darby Riders 4-H; Marina Sweet, poultry, Helping Hands Happy Hearts 4-H; and Tyler Parker, dairy, Monroe Winners 4-H.
Other award winners
• Fair Royalty
Princess—Marina Sweet, Helping Hands Happy Hearts 4-H
Prince—Spencer Smith, Canaan Pathfinders 4-H
Queens attendant—Emily Davis, Canaan Pathfinders 4-H
Queen—Rachel Harper, Clover Clippers
Kings attendant—Marcus Adkins, Fairfield Rascals 4-H
King—Trevor Engle, Mud Run Hustlers 4-H
• Specie Ambassadors
Equine—Cheyenne Hahn, Barn Bratz
Poultry—Cheyenne Glover, Wild Buckeyes 4-H
Rabbit—Nathan Barnhart, All That and a Bag of Shavings 4-H
Goat—Jennifer Ernst, Eager Achievers 4-H
Sheep—Delaney Hill, Country Bunch 4-H
Special Interest—Alicia Ferguson, Exclusively Equine 4-H
Swine—Kelsey Davis, Green Range 4-H
• Premier Livestock Winners
Swine and goat—Jacob Petee, Green Range 4-H Club
Beef—Gerrett Davison, Green Range 4-H Club
Dairy—J.T. Lemmermen, Monroe Winners 4-H Club
Poultry—Marina Sweet, Helping Hands Happy Hearts 4-H Club
Rabbit—Desiree Holton, All That and a Bag of Shavings
Sheep—Jennifer Ernst, Eager Achievers 4-H Club
• Harry Campbell Memorial Award for Outstanding Rabbit Exhibitor: Desiree Holton, All That & a Bag of Shavings 4-H
• Jennifer Waples Memorial Award for Outstanding Dog Exhibitor: Joy Fetherolf, Exclusively Canine 4-H
• Jim Tewksberry Outstanding Junior Fair Sheep Breeding Exhibitor: April Harris, American Spirits 4-H
• Debbie Leach & Lori Waldnig Memorial Award for Outstanding Equine Exhibitor: Samantha Shuler, Starlight Riders 4-H
• Steve Brock Memorial Award for Outstanding Dairy Exhibitor: Tyler Parker, Monroe Winners 4-H
• Small Animal Essay Contest (in memory of Leila Campbell): Cody Ferrell, Helping Hands Happy Hearts 4-H
• Green Range Scholarship Award: Shelby Clark