(Posted July 21, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Cade Smith has never thought of himself as a showman. Instead, his focus has been on breeding his birds and seeing them win. But there’s no denying it now. The 2021 London High School graduate walked away with this year’s grand showman of showmen title at the Madison County Fair.
“I am still in shock that I won,” said the 18-year-old, who qualified for the contest as the Junior Fair’s top poultry showman. He was named the top poultry showman last year, too, but due to COVID-19, the fair did not hold the grand showman of showmen contest in 2020.
The grand showman contest pits the best showmen from all of the species against one another. The contest caps off fair week competitions and requires qualifiers to not only show the specie by which they qualified, but all of the other animals, too.
“I thought that since I’d only ever shown poultry and rabbits before that I wouldn’t really have a chance at winning,” Smith said. “The other showmen have shown a lot of the other species before.”
After winning the poultry showman title early on in fair week, Smith went to work learning how to show everything from swine and sheep to horses and steers. Other 4-Hers and FFA members, including some with whom Smith would be competing for the title, were happy to lend a hand and offer pointers.
“It’s really cool the way that everybody helps everybody out. When I was younger, I always saw it as, “Why would they help their competition out?’ Now, I see it as everybody wants everybody to do well,” Smith said.
In the days leading up to the grand showman contest on July 16, Smith worked with each animal type at least once. He discovered that many of the species were easier to show than he expected.
“I just see a larger animal and think it’s going to be harder than it is,” he explained. “I was most nervous about swine. You don’t have a halter or any other way to control it other than a pig whip, and some pigs can get annoyed with it and act up. The most practice I put in was with swine.”
The practice paid off, along with the many years of experience Smith has accumulated as a 4-H and FFA member who has been a very active participant in open class and Junior Fair contests.
“I went in there pretty nervous, but once I got in that ring with an animal, all those nerves were gone, and I was focused on showing those animals and nothing else,” he said. “It shows that if you really want something and you work hard at it and you practice, you can accomplish what you want.”
Smith got his start in 4-H through the Cloverbud program 13 years ago. When he reached show age, he followed his older siblings’ lead, showing poultry. He has done so every year since then, also showing rabbits when he was younger and taking an active role in showing and promoting alpacas when the fair added the specie to its lineup five years ago.
Smith has one more year of eligibility to show animals at the fair. He’s on the fence as to whether he will; his decision depends on his college schedule. Smith plans to study turf grass management starting this fall at Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster.
“My dream has always been and still is to be the head greenskeeper at Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia where they hold the Masters every year,” he said.
Smith was a four-year letterwinner on London High School’s golf team. He served as president of London’s FFA chapter his senior year and is a member of the Helping Hands Happy Hearts 4-H Club. Smith is the son of Julia and Brian Smith.