WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — Youth was served at the Crawford County Fair breeding sheep judging when Austin Brown, 15, and Derek Wilson, 16, took Supreme Champion in the 4-H and open class for ewes and rams, respectively.
Brown’s texel sheep also copped the Supreme Champion Flock honors for the open class. The flock award is judged against all comers, not just 4-Hers, no matter the breed. Brown and his texels beat out eight other flocks to win the championship.
“That’s very special,” sheep department volunteer Betty White said.
In the open class, 4-H’ers have to compete against adults, big breeders and people from outside the county, White said. In the 4-H class, competitors are between the ages of 8 and 18, had to raise the sheep they’re showing and must be from Crawford County.
Brown has been in 4-H for seven years and is a member of the Saegertown Sheep & Swine 4-H Club. Brown raises no other breed, just the texels, and has been working to improve the breed through genetics. Aside from Supreme Champion honors, Brown earned 10 blue ribbons and three red ribbons on Tuesday.
“I like genetics to see what you get,” Brown said. “It’s kind of like playing with Play-Doh.”
Wilson of Titusville is a seven-year member of the Purple Circle 4-H Club. Wilson has been showing sheep for 11 years, competing in the open class. Aside from having the supreme champ ram, Wilson won four blue ribbons and three red ribbons on Tuesday.
“I like going around to the different fairs,” Wilson said.
Wilson has shown his Southdown sheep in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Massachusetts, the Pennsylvania Farm Show, Keystone International Livestock Exposition, and most recently the Indiana state fair.
At the Indiana state fair, against more than 400 other Southdown sheep, Wilson’s livestock took home champion ram and ewe honors, premier exhibitor, best forehead and all group and pair classes.
“There were more Southdowns there than all the sheep here together,” Wilson said.
There are 20 breeds of sheep and the way the judging is broken down is by breed, gender and age. All breeds have 4-H and open class components.
Altogether, Crawford County 4-H’ers had a total of 41 champions, including the three supreme champions.
“A lot of these kids have a long history with 4-H and have improved their flocks over time,” White said.
Sarah Yurisec of Meadville, a leader in the Saegertown Sheep & Swine 4-H Club, has 26 years experience showing sheep, including 11 years as a 4-H’er.
“It’s a family hobby,” Yurisec said.
Megan, her 6-year-old daughter, showed six Hampshires and picked up some ribbons in her first year of showing sheep at the fair as a 4-H’er.
“I love sheep and they love me,” Megan said.
Lydia Solomon was another second-generation 4-H’er who picked up ribbons with her six Border Leciesters.
“My mom did it as a child and it looked like a lot of fun, so I thought I’d try it,” Solomon said.
Her brother, David, picked up a blue ribbon for his baby doll Southdown.
“I like sheep and I like showing them,” David said.
Conneautville’s Jill Burnham has been a leader of Purple Circle 4-H Club for five years. Before that, she spent 11 years as a youth 4-H’er. She enjoys the positive things 4-H does for kids.
“It gives the kids a lot of opportunities to learn by doing and raising livestock,” Burnham said.
Morgan Kingen of Waterford showed Burnham’s sheep in the ring. She has been a 4-H’er for six years and shows her own sheep and heifers in Erie County.
“I’m very involved in 4-H and school,” Kingen said. “I know I have to work hard to achieve.”
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