The Darke County Junior Fairboard’s first annual Hearts of Darke Livestock Show pulled a large crowd into the sheep arena.
In this livestock show, people with disabilities (mentees) were paired with a Junior Fair Exhibitor (mentors). The mentees picked either a goat, sheep, or rabbit, and the mentor helped them parade around the ring to show the animal and interact with a judge.
4-H advisor Kathleen Ditmer is proud of what the Jr Fairboard has done with their Hearts of Darke Show.
“It is awesome; it’s phenomenal,” Ditmer said. “Gracelynn Harter is the one who came up with the idea, and Katelyn Micheal took it and ran with it. It’s been incredible.”
Junior Fairboard member Katelynne Micheal explained that along with liability forms and getting important information out to participants, a lot of the process of organizing this event was reaching out to people and getting the news spread about it.
“The hardest part was getting people signed up,” Micheal said. “We had everything in line and getting sponsors rolling in. Once we got them signed up, I was very excited.”
They had 29 people sign up to be mentees. While some had to drop out due to school or being sick, it was an impressive turnout.
“I was super excited to see all those smiles on all their face,” Micheal said. “It just made me feel amazing inside, knowing that that’s what they feel like.”
One of the show’s judges shared how impressed he was with the mentees.
“Usually, in 4-H, we give places in first, second, third, fourth, and all the way down the line,” He said. “There is no way I can do that today because each one of you has done such a good job. I see lots of smiles, and we had good answers. One of them reminded me of something. When they came out, they said, ‘I’m supposed to have fun and be brave.’ They all did a great job!”
The mentees that showed goats were Mason Lakes, Shyanne Alvey, Corbin McMillian, J. Ryan Burnett, Matthew Stickland, Monique Christensen, Miller Weiss, Scott Burgess, Jaron Martin, Steffie Martin, Jamie Martin, Sam Martin, Joel Martin, and Kennedy Knott.
Their mentors were Kelsie Gilmore, Lexie Shoop, Kara Durst, Amelia Price, Danicka Michael, Laney Fourman, Heidi Jones, and Christyana Roberts.
The mentees that showed sheep were Dominic Phelps, Alanah Yang, Kimberly Bridges, and Brooke Reier.
Their mentors were Megan Wood, Landon Perry, Mackenzea Townsend, and Paige Gehert.
The mentees that showed Rabbits were Vera Smith and Kyle Wooten.
Their mentors were Sohpia Aultman and Isabella Smith.
“Everything went great,” said Darke DD Superintendent Tonya Clark. “They were well organized, the kids were excited, and they had a lot of fun. That’s what it’s all about.”
Jeff and Kathy Unger were sponsors of the show. Jeff was excited to come and see it.
“Kathy works for Greenville Schools, and she drives the bus for the kids, and she wanted to help out and help get them going,” Unger said. “She works with them and sees them every day. It’s really good to see them get out and do things they wouldn’t normally do. We wanted to support them.”
The Junior Fairboard plans to continue the Hearts of Darke Livestock show yearly. They have already started planning for next year and working on things they can improve.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support of a lot of other people,” Micheal said. “I couldn’t be more thankful for it because it’s taught me so much. It taught me that it’s possible to do something by yourself even if it’s not ideal in most situations; it really is possible. I had a really good time.”
The Hearts of Darke Livestock Show has many sponsors to thank.
Gold Sponsors were Bruns Animal Clinic LTD, SVG Chevrolet, Dave Knapp Ford, Darke County Agricultural Society, Nutrien Ag Solution, and Darke County Developmental Disabilities
Silver Sponsors were Rick and Trudy Snyder, Graves – Fearon Agency LTD, Dick Lavy Trucking INC, Michael and Debra Price, Greenville Federal, Jason and Heather Manning, Jeff and Kathy Unger, Jackson Friendship 4-h club, Park National Bank, Sisco, Shoop Boer Goats, and Curtis Yount.
Bronze Sponsors were Wielands Inc., Bolton Run Excavating & Concrete, and Robert and Doris Goubeaux.
The Junior Fairboard did an excellent job organizing the Hearts of Darke Livestock Show. It was amazing and fun to watch, and everyone is excited to see it continue in the years to come.