MOUNT VERNON — The Showman of Showmen event is probably one of the most fun of all the animal events at the Knox County Fair. The event pits the Master Showman from each Junior Fair species against the others for the title of Showman of Showmen.
This year’s winners are David Ruckman, Grand Champion Showman of Showmen, and Lauren Harvey, Reserve Champion Showman of Showmen.
“I put in a lot of work,” said Ruckman. “I spent a lot of time going back and forth between barns, talking to all the people I know who were showing the different species. And I got the advice they had for me. I did get a chance to work with several of the different animals, too.”
In previous years, the event was divided into two categories, large and small animals. This year, it was combined into one category, resulting in a Grand Champion Showman of Showmen and a reserve champion.
Ten master showmen from different species competed, showing draft horses, saddle horses, market beef, dairy market feeders, dairy cows, sheep, swine, dairy goats, dogs, poultry and rabbits.
The Master Showmen and the species they represent are Ruckman, lambs; Abby Love, dairy; Megan Severns, goats; Stacy Fielding, market beef; Harley Davis, saddle horse; Harvey, rabbits; Rick Graumlich, dairy market feeder; Anevin Tharp, dogs; Kyle Lybarger, swine; and Andy Rieman, poultry.
Judging is based on several criteria. Dawn Porter, who judged the saddle horse competition, said she looks for a number of different things.
“What I’m looking for is that they are actually showing the horse and not themselves,” she said, “So that they are putting the horse forward in the best way they can. So when they are setting up they have the horse between the two of us. I am looking for a kind of a sharpness.”
Porter said she does not know which participants normally show which species.
“I’m not supposed to know that,” she said. “I don’t take that into account.”
Bill Moody was the judge of the swine competition, and said he looks for many of the same things.
“The biggest difference is that the swine are the only animal that is not controlled with a rope or halter of some kind,” he said. “I look for them to keep moving and keep the hog between themselves and me.”
The Showman of Showmen competition was coordinated by the Junior Fair Board with volunteers serving as the various species judges.
The participants put a lot of work into the event, learning about the other species and how to handle them.