KARIN ARMBRUSTER: New experiences prove to be enlightening

Pay attention: Showing goats takes plenty of practice and a great deal of patients. (Jim Crees photo/Herald Review)
Pay attention: Showing goats takes plenty of practice and a great deal of patients. (Jim Crees photo/Herald Review)

I have to admit, I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to 4-H. Although I know what it is and what it consists of, I didn’t grow up around it in Bay City, and neither did my friends.

After covering my first Osceola County 4H-FFA Fair last week, I can say I know quite a bit more thanks to hours of observing each judged competition and questions answered by Jake Stieg. It was definitely interesting to learn about how each animal is shown in the ring, how the kids interact with each judge and what makes each animal a grand champion.

During the middle of the week, my editor suggested that I and my Pioneer co-worker, Lauren Fitch, should learn how to show an animal and then be judged on how well we perform. She and I were all for the plan, and it came together on Friday.

With the help of 4-H veteran Sabrina McKay and 4-H superintendent Sherry Wood-Stieg, Lauren and I were taught the ins and outs of showmanship with a pair of goats and sheep that seemed to be a little sick of being led around a ring and placed in unnatural positions.

While Lauren had an unruly goat on her hands, I was stuck with an unruly sheep that ultimately made a temporary escape, before returning to the group. She and I are fast learners and picked up techniques pretty quickly, but the animals weren’t as cooperative and showed us we were neither master nor friend.

Even so, it was a fun experience that really made me respect 4-H members and the hard work and effort they take part in every day to make sure their animals are trained and taken care of for the fair. It’s not as easy as many of the kids made it look! Great job to all 4-H participants this year!

For those interested in viewing our showmanship accomplishment (or failure!), visit www.bigrapidsnews.com to find an amusing video.

I also had the privilege to judge the fun costume contest with the infamous Jim Crees. Rabbits, goats, ponies, horses and their owners were decked out in silly, theatrical and just plain cute attire. It was really hard to pick the winners, but I think he and I did the best we could.

Thanks for the memories and I look forward to next year’s fair!