OXFORD - Practice makes perfect and 4-H club members across Cumberland County have been busy honing the skills they have learned while working with their animals in preparation for the area's biggest 4-H competition, the Cumberland County Exhibition.
For 4-H'ers the competitions began on Aug. 31 and for two days whether it be sheep showmanship competitions, beef or dairy competitions, Llamas, rabbits, poultry, waterfowl or horses this is what 4-H members work for.
As 11-year-old Nick Goodwin - a member of the Three Way 4-H club in Leicester - prepares for his first dairy calves competitions, his mother stands close by giving him pointers as to what needs to be done to Action Abby before the competitions for the day begin.
"We borrowed Action Abby from Eric Thompson and this is the first year in the dairy," Goodwin said.
"It's a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. I've been working with Action Abby since she was born last February, with things like walking her, getting her used to being bathed and clipped," he said.
Goodwin is in beef and dairy competitions and anticipated taking part in provincial competitions in Bridgewater later this month, providing he finishes in at least second in one of the various competitions in which he and Action Abby are participating.
Diligence paid off for Mikayla Sears - a 14-year-old Ro-Win-Leah 4-H club member - and six month old Cleo (North Country Cheviot Sheep) when they took second place in the Sheep Showmanship Competition Tuesday at the exhibition.
"The showmanship part of the competition is where you have to show how well you handle your animal. The second part is the conformation where the judges look over the animal. With Cleo sporting a bad leg it was surprising to achieve second place," Sears said.
Along with the handling of your own animal, part of the showmanship competition is to trade off animals with the other competitors to show the judges how well you can handle the animals.
In Monday's competitions, Sears placed fourth with her quarter horse in the horse showmanship competition. Along with the sheep and horse competitions, Sears also took part in the beef competitions.
"It was my friends who initially got me interested in joining 4-H four years ago, but since then I really enjoy it and plan to continue with 4-H as long as I can.
"It's a lot of work getting ready for a show, you have to get the animal ready and used to working with you, handling the animal. Once the animal knows you they tend to stick close at competitions," Sears said.
Winners of the competitions for 4-H clubs will move forward to provincial competitions in Bridgewater later this month and from there winners will travel to Toronto where they will participate in the Royal Canadian Exhibition sometime in November.
The Cumberland County Exhibition officially kicked off Tuesday, and will run through to Saturday. The annual street parade will take place Sept. 5 with lots of activities all week long.