Sisters declared top master showmen at fair
Natalie Mrzywka, 16, of Holley wins the title
Photos by Tom Rivers
Nicole Mrzywka, left, and her sister Natalie hold their trophies after the Grand Master Showmen Competition at the Orleans County 4-H Fair on Friday. Nicole was the reserve champion and Natalie won the event. Their mother Annette (Lear) Mrzywka won the title in the early 1990s.
The event includes the top showman in nine different animal breeds and has them compete for the grand master showman, showing nine different types of animals. It is a grueling three-hour event.
Natalie Mrzywka, 16, of Holley leads a dairy cow in the show ring on Friday. She qualified for the competition after winning the showmanship award for meat goats.
Natalie shows sheep, goats, horses and dogs. That experience helped her show the range of animals in Friday’s competition.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” she said.
Natalie said showing the beef cattle are the most difficult because they are often unruly.
Her sister gave her a big hug after Natalie was declared the winner of one of the fair’s most prestigious titles. Natalie said the sisters push each other to learn about animals and excel in the show ring.
Nicole Mrzywka, 14, keeps a dairy animal under control during the Grand Master Showman Competition. Nicole qualified as the top showman for dairy goats.
Emily Harling, 11, of Barre tries to get a sheep set up during the Grand Master Showmen Competition. Emily qualified as the top showman for horse (western). Jayne Bannister is behind Emily and judge Tammi Kron listens to an answer about the breed from Janie Schutz. Both Jayne and Janie are past winners of the Grand Master Showmen.
Janie Schutz, left, of Waterport and Elizabeth Bentley of Albion show sheep in the competition.
Schutz qualified as the beef cattle showman and Elizabeth represented the llamas.
Elizabeth, 17, has shown llamas outside of 4-H for years. This year she joined the 4-H program and also showed in the dairy competition.
“I would definitely do it again,” she said. “The people in the barns, we’ve all worked together and taught each other how to show the animals.”
Judge Tammi Kron of Alden eyes the showmen as the lead dairy animals in the show ring.
Kron said the competition was very close. It came down to a tie-breaking question that Natalie Mrzywka answered. Kron wanted to know the best spot for a showman to be in the show ring. Natalie said it’s best to have the animal in the center of a show ring so it can be easily visible to the judge.
The master showmen included Janie Schutz, representing beef cattle; Justin Robinson, representing dairy cattle; Nicole Mrzywka, representing dairy goats; Natalie Mrzywka, representing meat goats; Kelsey Hilburger, representing horse – English; Emily Harling, representing horse – Western; Elizabeth Bentley, representing llamas; and Jayne Bannister, representing sheep and swine.
While waiting for the scores to be tallied, the participants each took turns introducing themselves to the crowd and sharing a highlight from the competition. Emily Harling told the crowd she learned to step outside her comfort zone. Other master showmen include, from left in back: Justin Robinson of Albion, Kelsey Hilburger of Elba, Janie Schutz of Waterport and Jayne Bannister of Point Breeze.