Mid-Ohio Lamb Classic helps usher live shows back into action

Mid-Ohio Lamb Classic helps usher live shows back into action
Dave Mast

Great care and technique along with tons of practice helped define champions during the Mid-Ohio Lamb Show at Harvest Ridge on June 13. The show welcomed youth from all over Ohio and saw plenty of expert showmanship.

                        

The Mid-Ohio Lamb Classic came to Millersburg, where youth from near and far ventured to the Holmes County Fairgrounds at Harvest Ridge on June 13 to compete for banners in showmanship and to present their market ewes to be judged.

Under the watchful eye of judge Sam Mattingly, teens showed their sheep with technique and precision. At times the sheep were settled and balanced; at other times they proved to be stubborn, exhibiting a mind of their own.

Regardless of how the sheep responded to their leading, coaxing and commands, the competitors in the showmanship ring were simply excited about the opportunity to participate in something they are passionate about in presenting their sheep and developing their showmanship skills during an event that was part of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association tour.

“I’ve seen a whole lot of great showmen out here today,” Mattingly said during the event. “Even those who don’t make the top five could come and show animals for me any day, and I have really had to nitpick out here today. They’ve made it really tough.”

The West Holmes FFA chapter members took a key role in presenting the show, providing a number of volunteers who made sure things ran smoothly and the show catered to the young competitors presenting sheep.

Jayme Pennell, West Holmes FFA chapter member and winner as an FFA State Proficiency finalist, was one of those on hand to help run the program. He said this event helps get the members back into the flow of doing active work as a group rather than on their own, something just about every state FFA member had to do after schools were canceled across the board.

“We are here to assist in any way we can to make sure everything is working smoothly,” Pennell said.

The WHHS FFA members had to walk on pins and needles as they awaited word as to whether or not the event could take place due to COVID-19 worries. However, everything was cleared, and while social distancing was adhered to as much as possible in the event, it didn’t stop those in attendance from enjoying what was a great day.

“It’s really cool to finally be able to see the community members you haven’t seen for a while,” Pennell said. “Obviously, we have to make sure we have the necessary safety precautions in place, but a month ago we weren’t even sure if we were going to be able to have this event. To be able to come out here today is great, and we have all been looking forward to it.”

It was a tremendous opportunity for the WHHS FFA chapter to get back into the rhythm of activities, but it also was a golden opportunity for those who were showing to get back on the horse and compete.

“Last week was my first show back, so it has been a lot of fun finally getting back into my final year,” said Joel Krebehenne from near Marysville, Ohio, who was victorious in the 18-year-old senior showmanship division. “We haven’t seen a lot of these people in months, and it is nice to get back to building relationships again because this is a year-round thing.”

Like Krebehenne, Justin Howell from Danville also won in the 16-year-old senior division. He said this was his third show in returning from the long delay caused by the coronavirus, and he said things are starting to round back into form after the long lay-off.

“It feels pretty good after having all of these lambs cooped up in the barn waiting to do something with them,” Howell said. “Just getting back into the show ring feels comfortable.”

Howell did go on to say the lay-off did give him ample time to get to work with and know his sheep better, which was one plus.

Grace McCurdy from Marion, Ohio finished second to Howell, although Mattingly had high praise for both of them for their effort. She also was attending her third show in returning and said she missed not only showing her animal in the ring, but also the joy of fellowship that accompanies these shows.

“We see each other so often, and I missed that aspect of this a lot,” McCurdy said, adding she felt more prepared knowing she had ample time to spend with her ewe.

Adeline Kendle of New Philadelphia took home the top honor among the 15-year-olds. She said this marked her second show back after the lay-off and felt like she was still knocking some of the rust off.

“I felt a little nervous, but I’ve worked hard at home with my sheep, which was key,” Kendle said. “I missed not being able to show more than anything, and it was nice to get back out in the show ring and just being able to be with my show family. The bonds we have made really help build up the excitement.”

After the age-division winners were tabbed in the showmanship competition, the top two in each event returned for the Champion Senior Showman contest.

That title belonged to 17-year-old Weston Stevens, who won his division before capturing the grand-champion showmanship title. The Reserve Champion Senior Showman went to Kendle, who impressed Mattingly despite being one of the younger contestants.

An elated Stevens, who hails from Ross County, said following of the event, “It was exciting to continue to get back in the ring and to showcase the lambs I’ve been working with. I was so ready to get back out in the ring. It’s been difficult to wait, but I kept me spirits up and kept working hard. I love the adrenaline aspect of this. We’ve been doing a lot of virtual shows, but there is nothing like the live competition to make it exciting.”

Kendle said it was nice to see her hard work pay off, and she was honored to receive the reserve title.

All of those who participated learned more about where they can improve and gained invaluable experience, which is what the shows are geared to do.


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