Pre­mier Show­man

Erica Will­ing takes top hon­ors at county fair

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

DEN­TON — East New Mar­ket 4-H’er Erica Will­ing tri­umphed at the Caro­line Dorch­ester County Fair Fri­day, Aug. 5, win­ning the 2016 Elite Pre­mier Show­case at the Caro­line 4-H Park near Den­ton.

Will­ing, a six-year 4-H veteran, took top hon­ors by beat­ing 2014 Elite Show­man Paul Saathoff of Den­ton and Caro­line Saathoff of Den­ton in the four-round live­stock han­dling show­case. Will­ing earned a trip to the show­case by win­ning the goat and sheep shows while Paul Saathoff ad­vanced by win­ning the beef show and Caro­line Saathoff used her vic­tory in the pig show to make the show­case.

Dur­ing the elite show­case, the trio showed pigs, cows, goats and sheep, and an­swered agri­cul­ture ques­tions asked by judge Sam Long of Penn­syl­va­nia. Will­ing’s vic­tory marked the first time a Dorch­ester County 4-H’er won the Elite Pre­mier Show­case since the coun­ties com­bined its fairs more than a decade ago.

“This is a re­ally big honor,” said Will­ing, who was mak­ing her fourth and fi­nal ap­pear­ance in the show­case. “I’ve worked re­ally hard for it. It has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence. It is an honor to be a part of a group of great 4-H’ers that have won this in the past.

“Paul and Caro­line are amaz­ing show­man,” she said. “Paul is very de­ter­mined, and Caro­line is just a great com­peti­tor. I knew go­ing up against them would be a tough task.”

A 2015 North Dorch­ester High grad­u­ate, Will­ing will be en­ter­ing her sopho­more year at the Uni­ver­sity of Mount Olive in North Carolina. She is study­ing agri­cul­ture ed­u­ca­tion with hopes to one day be­come ei­ther an ad­vi­sor with the Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica or the Mary­land 4-H or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“The best part about this is all the ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve had learn­ing about agri­cul­ture and be­ing with the an­i­mals,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot of my­self, things I didn’t think I could do. I’m just re­ally proud to be here.

“I want to thank my mom and my fam­ily for all the sup­port they have given me through the years,” she said. “I could not have done this with­out them.

Will­ing also earned Re­serve Cham­pion for one of her sun­set pho­tos she sub­mit­ted in the fair’s pho­tog­ra­pher con­test. In 2015 at the Mary­land State Fair, Will­ing

earned Grand Cham­pion Show­man in the goat cat­e­gory with her doe Glo­ri­ana.

Dorch­ester County 4-H Agent Navonne Owen won the 1997 Elite Pre­mier Show­case and called Will­ing’s vic­tory a pin­na­cle mo­ment.

“I’m so proud of Erica,” Owen said. “It is a def­i­nitely a pin­na­cle mo­ment in a 4-H’er ca­reer. Hav­ing won it my­self, I’ve been in her shoes and see what it means to achieve that shin­ing mo­ment.”

The fair opened Wed­nes­day, Aug. 3, with the crown­ing of this year’s queen, princess and lit­tle princess at its royal pageant.

Six­teen-year-old Emilee Coul­bourn of Federalsburg won the queen’s crown. This is her se­cond fair ti­tle, as she was named Fair Princess in 2011.

“The fair has been a big part of my life since I was lit­tle,” Coul­bourn said “I’ve al­ways come here. Be­ing able to be a part of hand­ing out the awards, sup­port­ing ev­ery­one and see­ing all the happy faces on all of these hard­work­ing kids is re­ally great.”

The fair gives 4-H’ers a com­pre­hen­sive com­pe­ti­tion to show­case their agri­cul­tural dis­plays, live­stock and pet projects, as well as their bak­ing, can­ning, culi­nar y and sewing skills. The 4-H fair also pro­vides a means of ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic of the im­por­tance of farm­ing to the na­tion and the hard work and tal­ents that go into it.

The ti­tle of Fair Princess went to 11-year-old Riley Wal­strum of Ridgely. She is the pres­i­dent of her 4-H sewing club and pre­sented a few of her orig­i­nally crafted projects as her tal­ent. She also en­joys play­ing lacrosse.

The ti­tle of Fair Lit­tle Princess went to 10-year-old Sky­lar Blunt of Greens­boro. For her tal­ent, she sang an acapella ren­di­tion of “To­mor­row” from An­nie. She also en­joys play­ing ten­nis.

Owen said the fair went smoothly and en­joyed very good weather a week af­ter the Mid-Shore saw 90-de­gree tem­per­a­tures and se­vere thun­der­storms.

“The fair has been won­der­ful,” she said. “We’ve had great weather, and a great turnout from the com­mu­nity. We’ve had an in­crease in the amount of en­tries for the live­stock shows. The pigs, cer­tainly, have been the big­gest entry. We have more than 50 pigs here for the fair.”

Among the in­crease in live­stock show­ing in­cluded many Caro­line County FFA mem­bers join­ing the shows.

Caro­line County FFA Ad­vi­sor Jodi Cal­la­han said she is proud of her high school­ers.

“Some have very lim­ited ex­pe­ri­ence show­ing live­stock, but they were very en­thu­si­as­tic about par­tic­i­pat­ing,” she said and she also showed sev­eral pigs dur­ing Thurs­day’s Swine Show. “It is a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

July was the first time North Caro­line se­nior Katie LaBerge showed a pig, and she won the Novice Class at the Tal­bot County Fair. LaBerge backed up her ti­tle at the Caro­line-Dorch­ester Fair by win­ning the Novice Show­man cham­pi­onship at Thurs­day’s Swine Show.

The fair also fea­tured the cake auc­tion on open­ing night, kids day on Thurs­day, dress a goat con­test and greased pig com­pe­ti­tion on Fri­day. The fair cul­mi­nated with a live­stock auc­tion Satur­day and a con­cert fea­tur­ing The Fab­u­lous Hub­caps with Flat­land Drive as the open­ing act.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

East New Mar­ket 4-H’er Erica Will­ing cel­e­brates win­ning the 2016 Caro­line-Dorch­ester County Fair Elite Pre­mier Show­case with her award-win­ning goat and sheep. For more on the county fair, see pages 12 to 15.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

Elite Pre­mier Show­case judge Sam Long ob­serves as Paul Saathoff of Den­ton, Caro­line Saathoff of Den­ton and Erica Will­ing of East New Mar­ket com­plete for the Pre­mier Show­man tro­phy Fri­day, Aug. 5, at the Caro­line-Dorch­ester County Fair.

East New Mar­ket 4-H’er Erica Will­ing holds the tro­phy for win­ning the 2016 Caro­line-Dorch­ester County Fair Elite Pre­mier Show­case on Fri­day, Aug. 5. Will­ing is joined by fel­low fi­nal­ists Paul Saathoff, left, and Caro­line Saathoff, right, and judge Sam Long.

East New Mar­ket 4-H’er Erica Will­ing cel­e­brates win­ning the 2016 Caro­lineDorch­ester County Fair Elite Pre­mier Show­case on Fri­day, Aug. 5, at the fair.

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