WILMOT — Animal judging is as much a part of the Kenosha County Fair as food, fun and other festivities.
While many fairgoers are enjoying the midway or live entertainment, youths bring their animals into the show ring, where an expert gives it a thorough once-over, offers an opinion and gives his or her judgment.
The Show and Sale Arena on the fairgrounds has been abuzz all week with animal judging, including beef, swine, poultry, sheep, rabbit, horses and goats.
As he looked over one entry after another, judge Paul Nuttleman of Reedsburg offered up constructive feedback — giving positives and critiques — of each animal brought before his peering eyes.
When veteran 4-H member Travis Harpster brought his Class 1 heifer into the ring, for instance, Nuttleman had this to say: “It’s really a full-bodied individual.”
Upon further examination, Nuttleman added, “She’s really a stealthy, deep-bodied individual that I appreciate a lot of things on.”
Nuttleman’s examination and judgment take into account multiple factors of the animal and its farm handler.
While the animal’s physique and health weigh into the equation, so, too, does its demeanor while in the ring, which can be a high-pressure situation for members of both species.
Andrea Edquist of Paris showed a Hereford steer at the market beef show. Edquist, who aspires to a career in agri-business, has been showing animals at the Kenosha County Fair for seven years. This year will be her final one.
As with any competition, Edquist said the lead-up to the moment in the ring can be stressful, but there is the follow-up sigh of relief.
“You create a bond with the animals, so it’s cool to see your hard work pay off,” Edquist staid. “I really like the showmanship part of it.”
Edquist said she learned, early on, the importance of keeping multiple issues in mind while in the ring.
“Maintaining eye contact with the judge is really important,” she said. “I try to keep my game face going the whole time I’m in there.”
But recognizing the judge is just one part of the puzzle to a successful moment in the ring, Edquist said.
So, too, is being aware of one’s surroundings, including the other youth showing animals.
“You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings at all times,” she said.
“You also have to know where all of the other people are in the ring, and their different animals.”
Animal judging continues on the fairgrounds through today in a lead-up to the livestock auctions taking place in the Show and Sale Arena on Saturday and Sunday.