Sweet repeats as Grand Showman of Showmen

Marina Sweet
Marina Sweet

(Posted July 22, 2014)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

It’s one thing to win Grand Showman of Showmen at the Madison County Fair. It’s another thing to successfully defend the title.

London resident Marina Sweet, 18, did exactly that. She won the contest for the first time last year, then repeated the performance this year. Both times, she qualified for the contest by placing first in poultry showmanship. Both times it was with the same hen, a bantam black Wyandotte.

The grand showman contest pits the first-place winners from each animal species against each other in an end-of-fair showmanship showdown. Over the course of the evening, each contestant shows all of the species: swine, sheep, beef, goats, dairy, equine, rabbits and poultry.

“I worked really hard last year and felt confident during last year’s show. This year, I worked hard but was really nervous,” Sweet said. “I felt like I had something to prove. Just because I won it once, that didn’t mean I was going to slack off.”

Sweet regularly shows poultry, goats and dairy cows at the fair. To broaden her repertoire, she conquered her dislike of sheep and took a market lamb to this year’s fair.

“I had a bad experience with sheep in the past, but I decided what better way to get to know an animal than by taking it as a project. I ended up loving the project. I loved my lamb,” Sweet said.

For the grand showman contest, Sweet said she relied on tips from fellow contestants and other 4-Hers to handle the species she doesn’t regularly take to the fair—horses, beef, rabbits and swine.

“I want to give a special thanks to everyone who helped me practice this year and last year,” she said. “And I want to thank the Smith family, Julia and Brian, for keeping all of my projects at their place this year. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Sweet said her hard work paid off not only in back-to-back grand showman titles for herself, but also in the successes of younger showmen she has helped along the way.

“There were four first-year poultry exhibitors I helped with showmanship this year. All four were in the same age group. Three of them finished in the top five,” she said. By lending a hand, she said she hopes to leave a legacy with up and coming 4-Hers.

This year marked Sweet’s seventh year in 4-H and her fourth year qualifying for the grand showman contest. She served as Junior Fair Board president and is a member of the Buckeye Rangers 4-H Club. She has one more year of Junior Fair eligibility.

A 2014 graduate of Bishop Ready High School, Sweet will start classes this fall in animal sciences at The Ohio State University. She plans to become a large animal/livestock veterinarian. She is the daughter of Doug and Jenny Sweet.

The other Junior Fair exhibitors who competed in this year’s grand showman contest were:

• Nathan Barnhart, 19, All That and a Bag of Shavings 4-H Club, rabbit showman of showmen;

• Macy Burchett, 12, Eager Achievers 4-H Club, beef showman of showmen;

• Arlington Cordell, 11, Buckeye Rangers 4-H Club, equine showman of showmen;

• Dusty Dillon, 18, Madison-Plains FFA, swine showman of showmen;

• Dylan Fout, 18, Speedy Spurs Livestock 4-H Club, sheep showman of showmen;

• Derek Parker, 17, Monroe Winners 4-H Club, dairy showman of showmen; and

• Chris Young, 16, Buckeye Rangers 4-H Club and Madison-Plains FFA, goat showman of showmen.

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