(Posted July 20, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Confidence and work ethic.
Molly Barber said those traits were key in her run-up to winning this year’s Grand Showman of Showmen title at the Madison County Fair.
This marked the third time the 17-year-old from the London area has competed in the contest and her first win. The contest took place on July 15.
Grand Showman of Showmen brings together the top exhibitors in each of the animal species shown at the fair. Contestants qualify by winning the overall showmanship title for their species during fair week. Those winners then compete for the grand showman title at the end of the week by showing not just their specie, but all of the species.
Barber qualified as the top goat showman, a title she has won four years in a row. This year would have marked her fourth trip to the Grand Showman of Showmen contest, however, the contest was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barber, a member of the Fairfield Rascals 4-H Club and Madison-Plains FFA, went into this year’s contest extra prepared. She incorporated into her game plan what she observed in past trips to the grand showman ring.
“I knew going into it that some of the species were a lot about knowledge, so I prioritized studying those species and getting to know what there is to know about them,” she said, mentioning poultry and rabbits specifically.
As for the confidence element, she said, “I kept reassuring myself that I was highly capable of showing every species. I knew I had to go into the ring thinking that was the species I qualified with and know it would be portrayed in my showing abilities.”
She also sought help from her fellow competitors, as often happens in the Grand Showman of Showmen contest. Participants often give one another pointers on how to handle the various animal types. She returned the favor, offering tips on showing goats.
“It was a really good experience to get to know the other species winners,” she said.
Barber got started in 4-H as a Cloverbud when she was in kindergarten. She has been with the Fairfield Rascals 4-H Club throughout her 4-H career, serving as president the last two years. She joined the Madison-Plains FFA as a freshman. She was the chapter’s student advisor last year. Going into her senior year this fall, she will serve as secretary.
Barber has always shown goats, in and out of the 4-H and FFA realm. She competed in the Midwest Wether Goat Series for a couple of years and at the Ohio State Fair where she was named outstanding market exhibitor for her age group in 2018. She also has competed in the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in Louisville, Ky.
Looking ahead, Barber hopes to share her showmanship abilities with other showmen and has already taken some fellow youth exhibitors under her wing, one of whom, Gracie Stingle, won reserve grand champion in goats this year.
“It was good to see her grow,” she said.
In addition to serving as a mentor, Barber hopes to return to showing goats in the Midwest Wether Goat Series, the Ohio State Fair, and NAILE.
“I’m focusing on my future life, like college and career,” she added.
Barber is the daughter of Amy and Richard Barber.
The other qualifiers in this year’s Grand Showman of Showman contest were:
• Swine–Kali Kimbler, Green Range 4-H Club;
• Sheep–Olivia Seaburn, Fairfield Rascals 4-H Club;
• Dairy–Olivia Finke, Born in a Barn 4-H Club;
• Beef–Amy Burchett, Madison-Plains FFA;
• Equine–Anna LeGault, Mud Run Hustlers 4-H Club;
• Rabbits–Emma McCoy, Fairfield Rascals 4-H Club;
• Poultry–Cade Smith, Helping Hands Happy Hearts 4-H Club;
• Dog–William Koenig, Green Range 4-H Club;
• Alpaca–Cade Smith, Helping Hands Happy Hearts 4-H Club; and
• Small animals–Paige Baker, Green Range 4-H Club.