Champion row: It’s judgment day for livestock, their handlers

Enterprise Staff ReportsApril 25, 2014 

Everybody wants to compete on Sunday.

There are animal competitions throughout the fair’s five-day run, but if you’re one of the best you’re leading your swine, goats or sheep into the center arena on the last day.

In master showmanship, the winners of the animal showing events compete to see who is the best.

The FFA and 4-H children who participate answer specific questions related to their animal’s breed. An overall winner is decided at the end of the day based on the animal’s overall health and the competitor’s knowledge of the animal.

“Master showmanship is very prestigious,” said Ron Brandt, fair manager. “The kids look forward to it every year.”

Master showmanship will begin at noon at the Arburua Arena.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, children from outside of Merced County get in on the action by competing with local youngsters in champion master showmanship.

“It’s completely separate from master showmanship,” Brandt said.

Champion master showmanship, which is in its third year, allows children to compete with animals that are not their own. The competition is designed to test contestants’ knowledge. The fair provides the animals.

“It’s extra work for us, but the kids enjoy it,” Brandt said.

He said champion master showmanship is growing in popularity. It is an event that is regularly held at the state fair and, Brandt said, the Merced County Spring Fair is quickly becoming a familiar place to practice for the big event.

Champion master showmanship typically has between 40 and 50 contestants, according to Brandt. He said he was brainstorming ideas on increasing participation at the fair when he thought of the event. So far, it is having the desired impact, Brandt said.

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