Out of hundreds of entries and dozens of classes, a Lakewood Ranch High School sophomore emerged as Friday night’s supreme champion at the 101st Manatee County Fair in Palmetto.
Karen Kotlarczyk, like many of the competitors who first spent all day in school, hustled to get their animals ready for the big show and ultimately spent all night waiting or showing in the Mosaic arena was exhausted by the end of the day. But she managed a smile and said, “I’ve been working really hard for this and winning supreme champion feels pretty good.”
It was a long day for all the competitors. Sarah DiPasquale, a 12-year-old Haile Middle School Future Farmers of America member, was showing her first dairy cow. She was rushing around prior to the show washing, feeding and walking her animal.
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“I’m pretty excited,” she said. “But it is a lot of hard work and very time consuming. You sacrifice a lot of time with your closest friends, but what’s really cool is when they come and watch you show and understand everything that goes into it.”
DiPasquale was always interested in showing cattle, but she had a special reason for not wanting to go the beef route.
“I always wanted to do cattle, but I didn’t want to do an animal I knew would be used for its meat after the show,” she said.
DiPasquale did have at least one friend by her side, her Haile Middle School FFA teammate Mikaela Barton. This was Barton’s second dairy show and “I really love it. I love the animals and you really develop a bond with them and it’s really exciting to put in all the work and then get to show them.”
As the night drew long, both competitor and animal can get tired. It shows in the ring as smiles turn to grimaced determination trying to get many of the cranky animals to continue strutting their stuff for the judge. When that happens, Barton said, “You just have to stay calm, stay focused and remember what you’ve been taught.”