Fair 2021: Big cash for open show winners

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(Posted July 9, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The Madison County Fair is guaranteeing prizes for grand champions in most of its open class livestock shows, and those prizes are big.

“The payouts are unprecedented, big money in Ohio. I don’t know of a larger payout anywhere in the Midwest,” said Paul Gross, Senior Fair Board president.

The guaranteed payouts for this year’s open-class grand champions are:

  • Cattle–$1,000 for the top steer, $500 for the top heifer, and $250 for the top feeder. The cattle show is set for July 10.
  • Dairy–$150 for best overall. The dairy show will take place on July 10.
  • Sheep and Goat–$500 for the top market lamb, $200 for the top ewe, and $300 for the top goat. The sheep and goat show will take place on July 11.
  • Swine–$1,000 for the top barrow, $1,000 for the top gilt, and $200 for the top Madison County born and raised entry. The swine show is slated for July 15.

According to Gross, $250 is a fairly standard payout for open-class grand champion animals, with $500 considered to be big.

“The biggest in Ohio is $750 which the Franklin County Fair started a few years ago. Now, Miami County is at $750, too,” Gross said.

The Madison County Fair is not increasing entry fees for the open class shows and has secured just a handful of sponsors. The idea, Gross said, is that the prizes will generate enough interest that entry fees will cover the prizes. In the past, all prizes were based solely on the amount of entry fees the shows generated. Now, that is the case only for the reserve champion and class prizes. (An exception is the dairy show which is offering guaranteed class prizes in addition to its guaranteed prize for the best overall.)

The goal behind the sizeable guaranteed prizes is to generate buzz about the Madison County Fair beyond the county’s borders.

“It’s a way to encourage outsiders to come to the fair,” Gross said. “I know people from Indiana and Pennsylvania who are coming to show. Having people from out-of-state–I think it’s super cool.”

To add to the excitement, the fair board hired Ryan Rash of Crockett, Texas, to judge the steer, sheep, goat, and swine open shows. This is notable for two reasons: 1) Rash is one of the most widely recognized livestock judges in the United States; 2) It’s unusual to have one judge for several species.

Rash, whose family owns club calf, Charolais, and Hereford operations, has judged livestock shows nationally in every species, from local to major events, in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. He is known for having a big personality and presence in the show ring.

“Ryan really knows his livestock. There will be people who come just to see him judge,” Gross said.

Note: The open class rabbit show is scheduled for July 11. Prizes will be based solely on entries with no guaranteed payouts.

The 2021 Madison County Fair runs July 10-17. For a full schedule of events, visit Madison County Fair.

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