This year’s Grand Champion Market Lamb at the Delaware County Junior Fair has once again been shown by an Altizer.
Ella Altizer, a sixth grade student at Big Walnut Intermediate and a member of the Eagle Country 4-H club, took home the top honor with a lamb that weighed 133 pounds. She follows in the footsteps of her sister, Aubrey, who had won the previous three competitions dating back to 2019.
“It feels really good, and I’m just really excited that all of my work over the summer really paid off,” Altizer told The Gazette.
According to Altizer, the judges are looking for a lot of muscle and a quality structural build in a champion lamb. Altizer said there is a lot of time spent with the lamb over the summer in preparation for the fair, including running and walking them.
Of course, Altizer had a valuable advantage working for her given her sister’s experience, as well as Aubrey’s willingness to help her sister. The sisters’ mother, Heather Altizer, said, “It’s a family affair … (Aubrey) didn’t show lambs this year, but she still played a part. It was a big sister helping little sister kind of deal.”
Ella said her sister played “a big role” in showing her different ways to set the lamb’s legs, “pop them,” and make them look well overall. Following the show, there may have even been some tears shed by the big sister.
“(Aubrey) was very proud of her sister,” Heather Altizer said.
There was an element of sibling rivalry at play as well, naturally, and Ella was happy to upstage her sister this time, her mother added jokingly. Ella admitted she felt some pressure to live up to her sister’s success, and while she enjoyed the experience, she’s glad it’s over.
Although she undoubtedly benefited from her sister’s guidance, the day belonged to Ella and served as a culmination of the work she’s put in over the past several months. Asked what she particularly focused on this year, Ella said she placed a lot of emphasis on setting her lamb’s legs properly this year and not putting the lamb in the holes of the bedding in the show ring, which detracts from the look of the lamb.
Heather Altizer added that Ella being “quite a bit” taller this year also made a difference given the size of the animal she’s showing.
While showing the Grand Champion Market Lamb may have been Ella’s biggest accomplishment of the day, it certainly wasn’t her only success. With showmanship being an important component of successfully showing animals, Ella also won the junior showmanship division and received the overall reserve champion showman award.
Her success this year as a showman wasn’t by chance, her mother said, but rather a product of Ella’s attention to detail when watching her sister and others show their animals in the past.
“She learned a lot from her sister and other older kids. She spends a lot of time watching and seeing what they do,” Heather Altizer said of Ella’s showmanship.
The proud mother went on to say of the joy of seeing both of her daughters have success in their show careers, “They put a lot of work into it, and they enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun to watch them as siblings push each other but also have some fun along the way. But to watch Ella, at 11 years old, do what she was able to do, she works really hard. It’s emotional. There were definitely a lot of tears that were shed that night because both of us as parents were super proud of her.”
Ella Altizer poses with her Champion Market Lamb.
Ella Altizer poses for a photo with her lamb and the judge following the Market Lamb Show.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.