PREBLE COUNTY — The Showman of Showmen honor is one of the most prestigious awards handed out at the county’s fair. And for years, the dog showman was never awarded the opportunity to compete for the highest honor.
That all changed this year, as Tristen Withrow took home the championship on Thursday, Aug. 6, after the senior fair board ruled that dog showman are allowed to compete.
“We’ve fought really hard to get in here – coming in here and kind of making a statement makes it really exciting for me and my club to say ‘Just because we show dogs doesn’t mean we can’t participate in other activities that other kids get to show in.’ I’m really excited that I can be there and be able to stand for that,” said Withrow. “It makes it (special). I’m thrilled.”
Withrow, who also shows horses, is in her 11th and final year of 4-H and a student at Miami University. She was representing her club, Tailwaggers, on Thursday night. It was also her second time competing in the event.
“Showman of Showmen is always really competitive in this county. We have a lot of solid showmen from a lot of really different walks of life,” said junior fair board president Johnny Cottingim. “This year, being the first year we allowed dogs into the big show, it was really exciting to see the dog exhibitor win it. She did a good job.”
While the rule was changed to allow the dog showmen into the competition, dogs were not allowed to be shown due to safety and training concerns. Instead, Withrow had to choose an animal out of a hat, and whichever animal was chosen was the event she sat out.
She sat out during the rabbit portion.
The road to victory wasn’t always easy for the veteran showman though, as Withrow started out the competition with a wild dairy cow. She wasn’t alone though, as several of the animals didn’t seem to cooperate with the competitors.
Withrow remained composed throughout, and didn’t let a few mishaps shake her confidence. She prepared as much as she could during the week leading up to the show, but also showed her horse on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
“I walked around to a lot of the barns and asked people if they could help me,” she said. “I think a lot of it, too, is just to have eye contact with your judge and have some confidence in yourself.”
Joining Withrow as this year’s event were Tyler Caplinger (sheep), Allie Unger (goats), Hannah Cline (hogs), Kayla Stiver (horses), Megan Roell (dairy), Dylan Guehring (rabbits), Adrianna Via (poultry), and Trent Broermann (steer.)
Caplinger is a member of All-Star Livestock and has been in 4-H for 10 years.
Unger is a member of Monroe Better Livestock and is majoring in Agriculture Business at Wilmington College.
Cline has been in 4-H for 9 years and is a member of Preble County Livestock.
Stiver is part of the Horses R Us Club for eight years.
Roell is part of Preble County Livestock 4-H Club and has been in 4-H for 8 years.
Geuhring is part of Cottontail Express 4-H Club and has been a member for nine years.
Via is a member of Poultry Pride and Livestock and has been in 4-H for nine years.
Broermann is part of the All-Star Livestock and has been in 4-H for seven years.
Jeremy Erskine may be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.