Sarah Zonneveld looked over the assembled 4-H members as they brought their dairy cows into the ring, paraded them around and then stood in line with them.
Zonneveld, judging the 4-H dairy showmanship competition at the Stanislaus County Fair on Wednesday, was looking for several very specific things: “How they exhibit themselves and the animal, the cleanliness of the animal, whether they move in unison, in sync.”
The competition was the culmination of months of feeding, bathing and generally caring for the animals. The human participants have to look good, too, with their white uniforms crisp and clean.
Because the competitors she was judging ranged from 9 to 11 years old, Zonneveld said, her job is to educate as well as to score each participant.
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“I talk to each one of them, giving them positive feedback,” she said. “Showmanship is an optional thing and we want them to come back.”
The blue-ribbon winner was Landon Cunha, 10. Like most of the other participants, Landon is a member of Chatom 4-H.
Chatom’s dairy barn was empty during Wednesday’s contest, an announcer said. Though it is optional, every Chatom member decided to take part.