Master Showmanship Means Friendly Competition Among Students

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FFA students compete Friday, Aug. 11 in the Master Showmanship division at the Umatilla County Fair in Hermiston. (Photo by Beau Glynn/Hermiston Herald)

After winning showmanship in a single division at the Umatilla County Fair — whether in swine, lamb or another type of animal — children and teenagers move on to Master Showmanship. In this competition, they show animals from each division.

Kelli Nelson, a student in FFA at Pendleton, won with one of her lambs, punching her ticket to the Friday, Aug. 11, Master Showmanship competition, where she showed an animal from each division — horses, dairy, beef, swine, goats and lambs.

Nelson said she was fortunate to win in the sheep division, place third with her goat and win the title of grand champion market steer.

Kelli Nelson of Pendleton shows here market steer on Saturday, Aug. 12 at the Umatilla County Fair Youth Livestock Auction in Hermiston. The grand champion steer had a market value of $2,143.94 and was auctioned for $7,350. (Photo by Beau Glynn/Hermiston Herald)

“Master Showmanship is a really cool opportunity for kids from all of the different species divisions to compete against each other,” she said.

Kennidy Baker, a judge in the dairy cattle division, gave some insight into what judges look for in master-showmanship competitors.

“We are looking at kids that haven’t had the opportunity to build a relationship with this animal,” she said. “It’s really different when they’re showing their own animal and have time to work with it. Just looking for kids that can stay calm under pressure, they know their way around, and have a general knowledge of how to be around different types of animals.”

Nelson has been involved with agriculture since she first began participating with 4-H at age 9. She also has family in the industry. Her father Nick teaches agriculture at Blue Mountain Community College.

“It was kind of just second nature with me,” she said. “Through 4-H, I’ve been able to gain so many new experiences, like learning about production agriculture.”

Nelson said showing animals at the fair takes a lot of hard work, dedication and determination.

“Some of the hard stuff would be outside distractions when the animals don’t focus on you, they focus on everything outside,” she said. “It’s a matter of keeping everything under control and calm. If you stay calm, they stay calm. They can almost sense your emotions, It’s funny how it works.”

While master showmanship is a competition, Nelson calls it a friendly one.

“It’s a really great way to talk to your peers and learn about the different species and industries,” she said. “Getting to know everyone in the county is really important and I’ve been able to do that as well as a bunch of different kids, because there may be a member of the FFA who knows more than you, and you can go to them and ask a question. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people. So I stuck with it and I gained so many new friends and connections to be able to get me through whatever I need.”

Youth Livestock Auction

On Aug. 12, 4-H and FFA members returned to the barn for the Youth Livestock Auction with 288 animals entering the ring as bidders sought to purchase them. According to information on Umatilla County Fair Youth Livestock Auction’s Facebook page, the total amount raised at the event was projected to exceed $1.25 million.

The highest bid auctioned was for a market steer brought by Cameron Estes. The blue-ribbon winner had a market value of $2,454.59. The final bid was for $12.25 per pound, with the steer weighing 1,403 pounds. The animal secured Estes $17,186.75.

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