One event recognizes outstanding achievement. Another focuses on the economics of agriculture. Together, Friday’s Supreme Showmanship competition and Saturday’s Livestock Auction closed out the 4-H portion of the 59th annual Bartholomew County 4-H Fair.

In contrast to the violent storms that plagued the final days of last year’s event, dry and mildly warm conditions prevailed during both major events as the 2016 fair wound down.

About 240 people poured in the pavilion to watch Friday’s competition. Saturday’s auction on the fair’s final day attracted about 200 people, about half of them registered bidders.

4-H Supreme Showmanship

Story continues below gallery

When your job is to determine the best of the best, it’s not an easy task.“I really had my work cut out for me,” said Justin Stierwalk, who judged Supreme Showmanship.

After questioning seven young people earlier determined to be the best showmen in eight respective categories, the Fountain County livestock judging coach and swine superintendent said it was obvious each had the benefit of years of experience, as well as trials and tribulations.

“This is an awesome group of kids,” Stierwalk said after the competition was over. “They rank right up there at the top with those I have seen.”

But at the end of the evening, Kyra Jessie was named Supreme Showman from the Goat, Rabbit, Poultry, Horse and Pony division, while Emma Wischmeier was the Supreme Showman in the Beef, Sheep, Swine and Dairy division.

“I hoped and I prayed that I would win,” said Wischmeier, the daughter of Louis and Holly Wischmeier. “But I know a lot of kids who have worked just as hard as I have for this honor, and it’s something special to me that I got it.”

In order to both raise a Grand Champion entry and win the top showmanship title, you have to do a lot of work with each animal, Jessie said.

Nevertheless, the daughter of Aaron and Regina Jessie seemed surprised when her name was announced at the end of the competition.

“During the entire show, I was kind of shaky,” Kyra Jessie said afterward. “It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but it feels really good.”

While another female 4-H member did not compete in Friday night’s competition, Christina Claycamp did end up winning three of the most coveted 4-H awards and scholarships that were announced Friday.

Frank Burbrink Memorial Scholarship

Vicki Schwartzkopf Memorial Scholarship

Owen K. Downey Mental Attitude Award

In addition, veteran 4-H member Kylie Arnholt was named the outstanding livestock exhibitor of the 2016 fair.

The Human S’more

While about 240 spectators watched, all the 4-H’ers remained on their best behavior. But after most adults left the pavilion Friday night, the kids allowed themselves to be kids again.After the local director of the Purdue Extension Cooperative office was placed in a chair within the arena, Elizabeth Smith was suddenly covered with chocolate syrup, graham crackers and marshmallows.

“The ringleaders are a group I’ve gotten very close with,” Smith said. “They did this because they know I hate s’mores.”

But once the gooey and messy practical joke was played, the laughs were followed by tears as Smith was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a jar full of written memories from this year’s 4-H members.

For Smith, the sweet gestures were more than sufficient to make up for the indignity of being turned into a human s’more.

“I love them dearly, and I’m going to miss them,” the teary-eyed Smith said.

4-H Livestock Sale

Most people connected with 4-H simply call it “the auction.” However, Kendall Nickerson refers to it as “Happy-Sad Day.” As the 11-year-old explained, Kendall is happy to be relieved of the responsibility of tending to her goats and pig every morning and night.

However, the mother of the Rockcreek Elementary student, Amy Nickerson, said her daughter is also sad because — despite knowing the animals are going to market — she still forms bonds with them.

But Kendall says that’s only true with one breed.

“I like my goats better than my pig,” she said.

Meanwhile, Lilly Steinwedel seemed to be a bit melancholy about selling the 130-pound ewe she’d care for over the past seven months.

“I like to love on them, as well as feed and care for them,” said the 10-year-old St. Peter’s Lutheran School student. “It’s kind of sad.”

It’s no secret that many bidders during the 4-H Livestock Sale are extending a form of reciprocity or goodwill to farm families they do business with on a regular basis.

Nearly all of the young exhibitors receive twice as much as their animal was worth. Some get much, much more than that.

For example, the 1,246 Grand Champion Beef Steer owned by Jake O’Connor sold for $4,300, far above its market value of $1,321.

But the son of Albert and Kim O’Connor also sold his 271-pound Grand Champion Barrow to Trico Farm Supply for $3,100. That’s more than 22 times what’s its worth on the market.

Farm Bureau agent Bob Hendershot, who purchased O’Connor’s steer, says he’s heard a few people overestimate how much of the purchase price can be written off.

“Very little of it is tax-deductible, he said.

Instead, Hendershot said he bids high because he believes it’s important that hard-working 4-H’ers be rewarded for their efforts.

“I’ve been around farm families and 4-H for a long time,” Hendershot said. “I’ve seen how the kids have improved and grown from their experiences.”

While the fair is now over, the education is not. Parent Mickey Ferree says he plans to sit down with his kids this week to talk economics.

“We have to show them how much we have spent on feed, specialty products like hair care products, transportation _ and even what we spent for meals during fair week,” said the son of Mike Ferree, who served 12 years as Bartholomew County extension educator until his retirement at the end of 2012.

After expenses are taken out and money is set aside for a new animal next year, most 4-H parents will put about 90 percent of the remaining funds into a college account, Ferree said.

“So even when you hear the big numbers, the kids really have very little play money left,” he said.

But the youth of Bartholomew County are helped by the livestock sale in a variety of ways.

For example, a five-gallon bucket of homemade ice cream, which was made by the Bartholomew County Young Farmers, was sold to Grammar Industries, Inc. for $4,500 this year.

That’s $1,000 more than last year, with all proceeds going to benefit 4-H college scholarships.

Top showmen of the 2016 4-H Fair

Seven members of the Bartholomew County 4-H Club were judged expert showmen in eight respective categories. The names of the two recipients of the Supreme Showmanship honors are in bold type below.

  • Beef – Jack Rosenberger
  • Sheep – Lane Hoefrlinger
  • Swine – Emma Wischmeier
  • Dairy – Kylie Arnholt
  • Goat – Jack Rosenberger
  • Rabbit – Kyra Jessie
  • Poultry – Garrett McGaha
  • Horse and Pony – Victoria Schwartz

Totals raised

The following shows the total amount raised this year during the annual Bartholomew County 4-H Livestock Sale, as well as a historic account of amounts raised in earlier years.

2016: $264,097

2015: $310,304

2014: $302,484

2013: $291,395

2012: $261,952

2016 Livestock Sale - at a glance

Total amount raised: $264,097

Total animals sold: 289

Total market value: $68,000

Premium amount raised: $196,097

Top Buyers: Columbus Silgas, Trico Farm supply, Innovative Casting Technologies, Tom Reuter Crop Insurance, Robert Hendershot, Bob Poynter Automotive, Country Chevrolet, C & G Tool, and Shorty Whittington.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.