August 22, 2002 | By: Haven Miller
LOUISVILLE, Ky.

When a young person steps into the show ring to exhibit an animal at the Kentucky State Fair it takes more than experience to come away with a champion.  It takes hard work and dedication.

“Every day for three months, morning and night, I’ve been getting my animals ready for the Fair,” said Rachel Craycraft, 18-year old 4-Her from Clark County.  She exhibited this year’s reserve champion market hog.

“You begin in the early morning grooming them, walking them, and making sure they’re getting the right feed,” she said.

For Evan Tyler Davis, 16-year old FFA member from Montgomery County, it was his first year in the Sale of Champions.  Dedication earned him the honor of exhibiting the reserve champion market lamb.

“It’s a challenge feeding them, grooming them, and keeping them from getting sick,” he said.  “But it feels good to win. I’ve never gotten to do this before.”

Depending on which animal you show, preparing for the State Fair can take from three to 10 months.  Youth who end up with the champion steer, hog, or lamb are the ones who stayed focused, made the commitment, and did their homework.

“It’s about doing your homework and learning about picking the right animal for the show, doing the nutrition portion of it, and knowing the importance of working with the animal every day,” said Charles Comer, Montgomery County Cooperative Extension agent for 4-H/youth development.

Comer knows what he’s talking about.  Three out of the six youngsters in this year’s Sale of Champions are from his county.

“If you’re not dedicated, if you’re not willing to go out each and every day – because that lamb or steer or hog has to be fed and taken care – then your effort is not going to produce the return on investment you want at the end of the show,” Comer said.

In addition to Craycraft and Davis, other youth earning a place in this year’s Sale of Champions include: Donna Hancock, 18-year old Pulaski County 4-Her who exhibited the grand champion market steer; Cody Emmons, 14-year old Fleming County 4-Her who exhibited the reserve champion steer; Katie Caudill, 13-year old Montgomery County 4-Her who exhibited the grand champion market hog; and Colby Myers, 10-year old Montgomery County 4-Her who exhibited the grand champion market lamb.

The grand champion market steer, hog and lamb all fetched record-breaking prices this year, bringing $25,000, $12,500 and $12,500 respectively.