By NICOLE ANTONUCCi
Recorder News Staff
FONDA -- On the second day of the Fonda Fair, children from the Montgomery County 4-H program were busy in the cow palace.
Some were finishing up morning chores, raking out the stalls and adding fresh hay, while others cleaned and brushed their animals to get ready for the 4-H Showmanship and Dairy Breed judging.
Dressed in white, the children led their cows to the arena and lined up according to their class.
Showmanship is broken down into the age of the children, and focuses on how well they can control their animals and follow commands. They are also judged on cleanliness and knowledge of caring for the cow.
Carolyn Littrell of St. Johnsville, and Annie Agnes, were the first ones to perform in the novice showmanship. They entered the arena and followed the judge's commands, walked their cow around the ring, stood still, and placed the cow a certain way.
The judge, John Stanton of Cobleskill, could be seen whispering a few words of advice to each of the girls and after about 10 minutes, had announced Littrell as the winner. She was given several ribbons, including a blue first place ribbon, a 4-H medal, and a bucket of goodies.
"I gave them a few words of advice about turning the heads and the body a certain way so I could see the front of the cow better," Stanton told the crowd. "The girl that won had a little more control of her animal. I commend both of them for the cleanliness of their animals."
It was the first time Littrell performed at the Fonda Fair, but she said she had participated in two other shows earlier in the year. Prior to the show, Littrell said she wasn't nervous, but afterward she admitted that she got a little anxious during the show.
"I was afraid she was going to get away from me," Littrell said. "The girl with me is also really good."
Despite being competitors Agnes and Littrell are becoming friends. The two girls actually have a lot in common. Not only are they the same age, but they were born on the same day, in the same wing of the same hospital.
They were seen prior to the show standing with each other, taking pictures and talking.
The competition continued with the Showmanship for ages 11 and younger, where six competitors performed. There were a few cows who seemed antsy to be in the ring and ignored their owners' commands. In the end, it cost them the blue ribbon.
Coming out on top was Garrett Gottier, whom Stratton described as relaxed during the performance.
"He was always attentive, quick to change the positioning of the legs and seemed relaxed through it all," Stanton said, naming Ben Littrell as the runner-up and Sarah Keehan as third place winner.
The competition followed with the 12- to 14-year-old division and the 15 years and older division. Erika Gogis of Pattersonville was in the last division and waited outside the arena with her cow, Swanky, and volunteer educator Martin Kelly.
Gogis has been part of 4-H since she was young and has performed with Swanky since she was a calf. Over the years, the two have grown together. Swanky, who is seven, has birthed five calves, one that was born during a Fonda Fair.
"We had a naming contest for the calf," Gogis recalled.
Kelly, who currently has seven students aging out of the 4-H program, said he tries to teach them many things.
"I like them to take pride in taking care of their animal and then going in the ring and seeing their accomplishments," Kelly said. "I also try to let them have fun along the way."
Kelly said he became involved as an educator after he had aged out of the 4-H program when he was 19.
"I wanted to stay involved with the program, so I became a volunteer," he said.
Performing with Gogis was 4-H intern Selina Ladino of Corona, who was trying to get her nerves under control before the show.
"Can't you tell?" she asked, laughing.
Ladino didn't know until a few weeks ago that she would be performing in the showmanship, Kelly said, adding that he wanted Ladino to perform for a reason.
"I want them to get the full experience," Kelly said.