Fair champions include new and past winners
Some fresh faces, and some familiar ones cast in a new role, were among the Grand Champions named during the 2017 Yuma County Fair.
It began Saturday night with Tylyn Zwirn having the Grand Champion Market Swine, and continued Sunday with Lyndsey Mekelburg showing the Grand Champion Market Goat and Kenzie Morris the Grand Champion Market Lamb, and wrapped up Monday morning with Kennadee Monk showing the Grand Champion Market Steer.
Zwirn closed out her 4-H and FFA career with her hog champion, Saturday night. She had the Grand Champion Market Steer two years ago with her own homegrown steer, and now took home the top hog award in her last year showing at the fair.
She graduated from Yuma High School in 2016, and is about to enter her sophomore year in college. However, she still had time this summer to display her multi-animal ability, raising the Grand Champion Market Swine, while also competing well in the beef judging.
It was quite a way to close out her Yuma County Fair career. Zwirn sold her top hog Monday night at the Junior Livestock Sale.
Morris had the top lamb in Sunday’s judging. It was her second straight grand championship in the species, and third in the past four years.
“No never,” she replied when asked if it ever loses its thrill. “There’s always something new.”
Morris, who is entering her junior year at Yuma High School, had three sheep in the final drive as she had the Heavyweight Champion, Lightweight Champion and Middleweight Reserve Champion.’
“This is probably one of my best years,” she said.
Her heavyweight, named “Elway” ended up being named Grand Champion.
Morris’ repeated success in the sheep show is not by luck. She said she spends probably five to six hours a day during the summer working with her lambs. She continually practices walking with them “because they’ll forget” and also closely watches their diet.
“I felt good (coming into the Yuma County Fair), but you never know what’s going to happen, and everyone gets better,” Morris said. She sold Elway Monday night during the Junior Livestock Sale.
There could be more grand championships in her future as Morris can show at the county fair for two more years. (She is taking three other sheep to the Colorado State Fair later this month.)
Lyndsey Mekelburg could have more in her future as well, as she is entering the seventh grade at Yuma Middle School. However, she might have to fend off her own siblings in order to do so; her older sister Jayci, going into ninth grade, already has two Grand Champion Market Goats (2012 and 2016) on her resumé. In fact the 2017 Fair was a good one for the sisters as Jayci had the Reserve Grand Champion in goats and sheep.
Lyndsey had the Grand Champion this year with her goat named “Little Red” in her fourth year showing goats. She said it takes quite a bit of work, and “sometimes they can be stubborn.” She said one needs to be careful what they eat.
Lyndsey sold Little Red Monday night at the Junior Livestock Auction. She is not done, though, as she has other goats she will be taking to the Colorado State Fair later this month.
Young Kennadee Monk, 10, closed out the animal species judging Monday morning by showing the Grand Champion Market Steer. Ironically, her mother Amanda (Riley) and uncle Justin Riley dominated the sheep judging in the late 1990s and early 2000s with seven grand champions between them from 1997 through 2004, with 1999 being the lone exception.
However, Kennadee said she wanted to go with the big animal.
“I did a bucket calf one year and just fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s just fun to do, something I love to do.”
Her grandpa Rick Riley had helped quite a bit with show steers growing up, so he was able to help her learn the ropes.
Her entry in the steer judging, “Rollo” purchased from former Yuma County champion Rex Buck, weighed in at 1,365 pounds, and won Class 12 to make the final drive. Kennadee said she spends about six hours per day working with Rollo, exercising, washing and blow drying.
“I knew he was pretty good, but you never know until you get here,” she said. “It’s always different with every judge, every year.”
So what was her response when Rollo was named Grand Champion Market Steer?
“I started crying,” she said. “I was in shock.”
Rollo was sold at the Junior Livestock Sale, Monday night.