XENIA — After she exited the ring from her final show in the Showman of Showmen competition at the Greene County Fair Thursday afternoon, a crowd member asked contestant Haley Quallen, “How’d you do?” In response the tired girl spread her arms out in a broad shrug as if to say, “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Just a few minutes later after the final points tallies from the marathon-esque competition were announced, she had a definitive answer to that question: She was the 2015 Showman of Showmen. She had won.
“I’m just ecstatic,” she said after receiving the coveted honors she had been after for four years. “It’s pretty cool to have finally won it.”
To be eligible for the competition, contestants must have won a past senior showmanship event with one of the animals in the event: horses, beef cattle, hogs, sheep, dairy cattle and goats. During the event, contestants travel among show arenas at the fairgrounds, showing each of the six animals in live showmanship competitions. Scores from each of the afternoon’s competitions are added together to yield the top showman at the fair.
The showmanship competition is unique in that entrants are forced to move out of their comfort zones to show animals they might not necessarily be familiar with. It’s not a competition one could win all on their own.
“In order to prepare for that, you need to go to some of your friends that show [other] species and talk to them and kinda have them help you out,” Quallen said. “I had some people help me out. Through the years I’ve just slowly gotten better at it.”
It seems fitting that just before the start of the afternoon’s competitions, Quallen was one of the entrants helping others with showing tips. Those who listened to her heard from the best. She, in turn, received help from others along the way.
“We all work together,” she said. “We’re all giving each other pointers. If we’re out in the show ring and we saw the lamb’s foot was off place, we’d be like ‘Hey, fix your foot,’ or something like that. We’re all really close like a family here.”
First place: Haley Quallen
Second place: Sarah Harner
Third place: Makayla Dean
Fourth place: Nicole Hackman
Fifth place: Mikal Porter, Brant Wickline
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.