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WAPAKONETA — The fourth time was the charm for St. Marys native Cole Brooks as he took home the showmanship sweepstakes title Thursday night at the Auglaize County Fair.
“It feels great,” Brooks, 18, said shortly after being named the winner of Thursday’s event that pitted the best of the best against each other. “I was hoping I was going to win. I’ve done this four times so I was hoping I would win.”
For Brooks, who shows horses at the fair, the experience paid off. The event pairs contestants with animals they have little to no experience showing.
“I learned to smile, stand up straight and try to make the animal look its best,” Brooks said. “A sheep — that’s a little different. If it tries to run away there’s nothing to grab onto. The rabbits and chickens, they are a little different because you aren’t really leading them. They are more about naming the parts and knowing history.”
The judges quizzed the contestants on a variety of topics during each portion of the sweepstakes. Brooks, whose show was on Monday, spent the rest of the week studying up on the other animals that make up the sweepstakes.
“You have to go find people who know how to show these animals show you how to do that,” Brooks said. “I just tried to find people who knew people or people I knew who could help me. They were really helpful. I owe everyone who helped me and I made a lot of friends.”
Each sweepstakes helped Brooks gain valuable experience that he said helped him Thursday night.
“It gets progressively easier each time,” Brooks said. “That third and fourth time you remember a lot of the stuff and it comes back.”
For the younger members of 4-H, Brooks offered some advice. Brooks is a member of the Auglaize County Mavericks.
“Practice a lot,” Brooks said.
“Don’t just have someone show you, physically handle the animal and try to find people who are good at what they do.”
Brooks continued his family’s legacy of being involved with horses. The recent Memorial High School graduated noted both his parents had horses.
“We’ve always had horses,” Brooks said. “They are a challenge, getting them just right for the show. I love their personality. I just love them — you get attached.”
While he cannot participate in horse showmanship next year, Brooks said he plans to participate in the fair again as long as his college studies allow him time.
Brooks will be attending Wright State University Lake Campus to major in accounting.
“It feels so good,” Brooks said. “There are no words to describe how I feel.”
The other contestants in the sweepstakes were: Molly Paul, rabbits; Jessica Laman, poultry; Kerrie Miller, beef; Aprille Steinke, dairy; Austien Snapp, sheep; Tiana Heidt, swine; and Dustin Kohler, goats.