Every year, about $10,000 in cash and prizes, from a variety of generous sponsors, is given away to 4-H and FFA youth at the annual Dodge County Fair Supreme Livestock Showman Contest. Youth from across the county work hard all summer long to take home a chunk of the pot.

“In order for kids to compete for supreme livestock showman, they have to exhibit in the sheep, swine, beef, or dairy species at the fair,” said Rebecca Doman, event chairman. “They also have to place in the top four of their intermediate or senior-division showmanship class.” In addition, the contest committee matches a youth from each species into a team of four, because there’s an individual and team competition. “All together, there are 32 kids in eight teams.”

Prior to the show on Saturday night, at 7 p.m., in the Farm Progress Arena, each team works together to teach each other how to show all four species. “During the show, the sheep, swine, beef, and dairy are shown simultaneously, and every few minutes, the kids rotate from one species to the next, displaying the showmanship skills they learned from their teammates.” There is a different judge for each species, the kids are awarded with points after finishing with each animal, and then points are tallied at the end to pick the winner. Once a youth wins the competition, he or she is ineligible to compete, again.

“No other county, that I know of, has an event of this magnitude,” added Doman. “The contest is special, because, unlike the regular classes, it’s not about the best-looking animals, it’s about who works the hardest. It’s my favorite night of the fair; it’s so fun to watch the kids learn.”

The Dodge County Fair runs through Aug. 18, 2019.

Written by Dori Lichty — farm wife, 4-H Mom, and full-time communicator