Grand showman: Calm, cool and collected

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Messenger photo by Jeff Pfeil
Kosta Xenikis competes in the Madison County Junior Fair grand showman of showmen contest. The 15-year-old from London won the title.

(Posted July 19, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

For Kosta Xenikis, the journey to the Grand Showman of Showmen title was paved in blood, sweat and years.

The 15-year-old from London was one of eight youths who competed in the pinnacle of livestock showmanship at this year’s Madison County Fair.

The contest brings together the top showmen in swine, sheep, dairy, goat, beef, equine, rabbit and poultry. The contestants show not only the specie by which they qualified but all of the others, too.

Making it to the grand showman contest was the first hurdle for Xenikis, who was sweating a little after his younger brother, Pegasio, 13, beat him out of the open class steer show title the first day of the fair. They competed against each other again a few days later during the Junior Fair beef show.

“People figured he’d get me in that show, too, but I turned it and won,” Xenikis said.

As the top Junior Fair beef showman, Xenikis moved on to the grand showman contest, which took place the evening of July 13. In the days leading up to the event, he brushed up on showmanship for the various animal types. He got tips from the other contestants and shared some of his own.

Once he was in the ring, things went smoothly, he said, with one minor exception.

“When I turned the rabbit on its back, it kicked me and cut a three-inch scratch in the palm of my hand. I had to play it off and make sure no blood got on the rabbit because it was white,” he said.

That calm demeanor went a long way with the judges, apparently, as Xenikis took home the title.

When asked what advice he’d give future grand showman contestants, the new champ said, “Work hard. There’s a lot you have to do. When you’re in the ring, anything could happen…Go in with a not-too-cocky mindset, keep your cool and you will do alright.”

Xenikis lives on a farm with his parents, Toula and Tony Xenikis, brother, Pegasio, and older sister, Katerina. He started showing poultry and lambs when he was 9 and switched to beef a few years later. Besides the county fair, he also participates in the BEST program, going to 10 or 11 shows each winter, most at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

He spent many years as a member of the Speedy Spurs Livestock 4-H Club. This year, he competed at the fair as a member of the Madison-Plains High School FFA. He will be a sophomore this fall.

In addition to winning grand showman of showmen, Xenikis won grand champion steer and grand champion born-and-raised.

Also competing in the grand showman of showmen contest were:

* Swine showman–Haylee Henry, Madison-Plains FFA and Speedy Spurs Livestock 4-H;

* Sheep showman–Dalton Cunningham, Madison-Plains FFA;

* Dairy showman–J.T. Lemmermen, Monroe Winners 4-H;

* Goat showman–Brooks Barber, Fairfield Rascals 4-H;

* Equine showman–Brooke Edwards, Darby Riders 4-H;

* Rabbit showman–Kennedy Nickell, Born in a Barn 4-H; and

* Poultry showman–Amara Suchy, Double L II 4-H.

Top showmen for animal species not included in the grand showman contest were: Joy Fetherolf, Exclusively Equine 4-H, dogs; Ellie Heisler, Beginners to Winners 4-H, small animals; and Olivia Rinesmith, Fairfield Rascals 4-H and London FFA, alpacas.

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