HUTCHINSON — The judge asked the remaining showmen to line up one after another. They moved up as he pulled them out, set their calves’ feet and wondered if this could be the final placing for the Grand Drive Senior Beef Showmanship finals.
Then the judge asked them to switch animals.
“I’m going to push them a little more when they come back for the finals,” judge Scott Bayer said, after selecting showmen to bring back from each heat.
The Grand Drive Senior Beef Showmanship had nine heats of showmen, many giving Bayer tough decisions, he said. After the nine heats, he judged three semifinal rounds, planning to take four from each heat for a total of 12 showmen in the finals.
The last semifinal was too close, Bayer had to take five.
The Grand Drive market shows took place Saturday. The market classes focus on the animal, looking for the biggest, meatiest calf, hog sheep or goat. However, the way a showman handles their animal in the ring can make them look better than they even are. That is where showmanship began.
In senior showmanship at the Kansas State Fair, showmen were judged on how they made their calf stand, how the calf was groomed, their knowledge of the animal and more.
And Bayer did turn up the heat in the finals.
After having the showmen move their cattle around, switch places in the show ring, and asking them individually about their animal, Bayer had them switch calves.
Now the showmen had to move around the ring, set up and show off an animal they had never worked with. He had the showmen keep their mismatched animals until he lined them up for placing, then he had them return to their original animals.
When they returned, Laura Carpenter was in the number one spot.
“This young lady right here will be your grand champion,” Bayer said, to applause from the crowd.
Carpenter kept her calf set up and simply smiled.
After the show, she was visibly more excited.
“I don’t know what to say, I really don’t,” she said. “It’s something I’ve dreamed of and finally got it. And this is my last year to show here, so that’s really special.”
Carpenter is in her final year for 4-H at age 19. She lives in Wamego and began showing at the State Fair in 2013.
Last year she came to the State Fair and made it through the regular heats and semifinals, but she left the final round empty handed.
“I think this young lady did an excellent job setting her animal up,” Bayer said after announcing Carpenter as grand champion. “She took the new animal and set them right up as well.”
Saturday, Carpenter showed in market beef classes for the Charolais and Angus breed shows.