The beef and dairy arena at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair was packed to the rafters during the small and large round robin showmanship contests Thursday evening.
Taking home the banner and traveling trophy for grand champion in the small animal category was 18-year-old Goshen resident and Concord High School graduate Erin Finch. Finch and reserve champion Alley Bailey, tied in the normal competition and had their tie broken by their scores on a multiple-choice test they took earlier in the day. Even with the tie-breaker, Finch edged out Bailey by just one point.
Finch had a hard time believing she had won.
"I thought they were joking," she said. "I don’t know (what it feels like to win,) it hasn’t connected yet.
She prepared for the competition by spending four to five hours each day studying and going to the barns to learn about the animals outside of her specialty that she had to handle. This fall she will be attending Indiana University South Bend and seeking a degree in elementary education.
In the large animal category, top honors went to 18-year-old Millersburg resident and Fairfield High School graduate Allison Hostetler. She defeated Hillary Lechlitner, who took home reserve champion, in the regular competition scoring.
"I was very excited," Hostetler said. "I worked very hard for it."
In fact, it was Hostetler’s third appearance in the round robin competition. She did not place in her first attempt, but was awarded reserve champion in her second attempt before this year’s success.
Hostetler will be attending Ball State University with a double major in nursing and dance.
The round robin competition allows 4-H members to show a variety of animals to display their knowledge of them and the techniques used to present each animal in the show ring.