Luck, know-how shown in youth at Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions


COLUMBUS – It was a combination of beginner’s luck, good fortune and know-how for the eight young people who exhibited and sold the grand and reserve champion livestock projects at the 35th annual Sale of Champions at the Ohio State Fair.

But despite encouragement to go all out from Gov. Bob Taft before the event began, a handful of businesses could only help the more than 9,500 youth livestock exhibitors to the tune of $137,000, falling short of last year’s $201,500 sale total.

Regional winner. Minerva-area 4-H’er Stacey Johnson was honored at the sale as the first recipient of the Governor James A. Rhodes junior fair endowment fund scholarship.

Johnson, who has exhibited Oxford breeding sheep at the state fair since 1993, along with poultry, hogs and sheep at the county level, received the award based on her active junior fair participation.

The award is presented to a student at Ohio State or the Agricultural Technical Institute. Johnson will be a freshman animal science major at Ohio State this fall.

Poultry. First-time poultry showman Shea Havens from Fayette County grabbed grand champion meat chicken honors in a move that surprised her and two other members of her school’s FFA chapter.

The three students participated in a cooperative program to raise several chickens at the school, rotating weekly chores, according to Havens.

Arriving in Columbus, each randomly grabbed enough birds to fill their cage from the back of their van. It was a stroke of sheer luck that Havens grabbed the right combination to win the show.

The pen sold for $11,000 to Meijer, Inc. Proceeds will benefit the FFA chapter.

A slight difference in the depth and thickness of the breast on one bird set Havens’ pen apart from that of reserve champion exhibitor Ben Rieman of Mount Vernon in Knox County.

Amusements of America repeated their support of the youth in the reserve spot when they bought Rieman’s pen for $8,000. Rieman also garnered overall outstanding exhibitor honors.

Lambs. Wayne County’s Andy Johnson topped more than 1,000 other lambs to take the top spot in the market lamb competition, marking one of few times a purebred animal has won the show.

Johnson, of Dalton, sold his 137-pound Hampshire for $21,000 to The Kroger Company.

It was a double-first for the reserve project exhibitor and buyer.

Mark Gray of Chillicothe opened new doors as the first-ever Ohio State Fair lamb exhibitor from Ross County.

And in his last try at winning the junior show, the 19-year-old sold his 129-pound reserve champion lamb to Kale Marketing in Richwood, Ohio, for $11,000. This was Kale’s first time as a winning bidder at the sale.

Barrows. Fulton County exhibitors dominated both top spots in the barrow show.

Eleven-year-old Taylor Creager made her second appearance in the sale of champions with this year’s grand champion barrow, a spot she also held in 2000.

Creager’s 275-pound purebred Hamp, bred and raised on the family’s Wauseon farm, sold to Meijer for $20,000. The company also bought her 2000 champion.

The win also marked the first time a purebred Hamp won the barrow show “since the ’60s or ’70s, no one can really remember,” according to show emcee Dale Minyo.

In his last try at the big one, Archbold’s A.J. Genter again pulled off a reserve champion win, a repeat of last year’s placing. But it almost wasn’t meant to be.

Until just a week before, he had planned to bring a Duroc to the state show, he said. A quick comparison a the last minute led him to change his mind and bring the winner instead.

This year, his 255-pound hog beat out 550 others in the crossbred class before being named overall reserve champion.

As an added bonus, both top-finishing hogs were bred at the Creager operation.

Genter sold his project for $11,000 to a team from Nelson Auto Group and Swan Cleaners.

Steers. When the show judge neared Muskingum County’s Stephanie Riley to slap the grand champion steer’s back, tears started streaming down the exhibitor’s face, she said.

The tears turned to excitement when her steer, previously named grand champion six times, division champ once, and third overall twice at other shows this year, won the banner and a spot in the purple circle.

Even with auctioneer Johnny Regula’s announcement of his desire to get $100,000 for this year’s grand champion, in honor of the 4-H centennial, buyer’s funds were limited.

Riley’s 1,314-pound champion sold for $40,000 to Kroger, marking the company’s eighth consecutive purchase of the top steer.

Sixteen-year old Seth Kohnen from Mercer County exhibited this year’s reserve champion steer.

His 1,308-pound steer – a half-brother to the grand champion – sold for $15,000 to a trio of buyers, including Huffman’s Market, Union Stockyards and Will-B-J Farm.

Sharing wealth. Of the total sale amount, $75,000 is earmarked to be distributed among all youth exhibitors through the fair’s youth reserve program.

Created in 1995, the program caps profits the eight young people can deposit into their bank accounts. Instead, any excess of the final bids are divided among other youth exhibitors in the form of scholarships and premiums.

The youth reserve program has awarded more than $760,000 to more than 5,500 junior youth exhibitors since its inception.

(You can contact Andrea Myers at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at

Second horse in Ohio confirmed with West Nile

Lab tests have confirmed a second case of West Nile virus in an Ohio horse.

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – Lab tests have confirmed a second case of West Nile virus in an Ohio horse.

The first case, reported in early August, originated on an Amish farm near Fredericksburg. The second horse was also stabled in Holmes County but had a different owner. The animal was euthanized earlier this month.

Symptoms. The unvaccinated horse showed signs of infection, including tremors and rear leg weakness.

Other symptoms of the infection in horses include loss of appetite, fever, weakness, impaired vision, loss of coordination, aimless wandering, convulsions, inability to swallow, circling, hyper-excitability or coma.

Owners should consult their veterinarians about vaccinations.

Human cases. The Ohio Department of Health has also said that the state has two probable human cases of the virus.

The cases have been observed and treated in Franklin and Cuyahoga counties.

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