HARRINGTON, Del. — The Livestock Extravaganza at the Delaware State Fair showcases the efforts of young future farmers.
Young people show steers, swine, sheep and goats. The cream of the crop of hundreds of youth animal entries are put on parade in front of bleachers packed with beaming parents.
Judges show up in white shirts, black bow ties and red boutonnieres — over jeans and boots — to judge the animals. The National Anthem is sung, veterans and first responders are saluted, and the picture-taking by proud parents seems to last for hours.
Tuesday’s show emcee was Deputy U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse, a native of Delaware.
It’s a proud evening for the exhibitors, but it’s also the culmination of an entire year of hard work. Long before the grandstands fill at the Delaware State Fair and the awards are given, students rise at dawn every day, regardless of the weather, to feed, groom and care for their animals.
“I think we have a very bright future with this group of young people,” Scuse said.
Mindy Cook of Newark, Del., won the title of grand champion showman.
Cook, a 17-year-old, has won the title for the last four years in a row. Grand champion is awarded to the young person judged best at showing all four types of animals. Cook competed with Lauren Nickerson of Hartly and Kelsey Johnson of Bridgeville for the title.
All three young women showed sheep, goats, steers and swine as they competed for the title. That competition followed the individual competition, with grand and reserve champions being named for all four species.
Cook also won the grand champion in the goat category.
Dylan Nickerson won the grand champion in the steer category.
Tyler Majchrzak won the grand champion in the sheep category.
Chris Scott won the grand champion in the swine category.
Reserve champions were Lauren Nickerson for steer, Madison Cook for goat, Ridge Vetts for sheep and Brayden Hearn for swine.
As usual, the Livestock Extravaganza is often a family affair. Mindy and Madison Cook are sisters; Dylan and Lauren Nickerson are brother and sister.
“It’s nice. It’s fun,” said Mindy Cook, after winning her fourth title in a row.
Cook said showing enables her to meet nice people, and she loves her animals. While other students pour their time into sports, she has devoted herself to showing and caring for her animals. “Showing has always been my sport,” she said. “It is 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day in rain, cold, snow, the whole bit. But if you put your all into it, it eventually pays off.”