Jacob Schulz holds his lamb as others look on, including Governor Scott Walker, in cowboy hat, and Alice in Dairyland, far right, at the Wisconsin State Fair.
After visiting with 16-year-old Jacob Schulz of rural Pittsville recently, I discovered he and I had one thing in common, in spite of our age difference of 66 years. The similarity was that he and I had exhibited livestock at the Wisconsin State Fair, but in different eras, 1948 and 2013.
My only exhibiting experience goes back to the Wisconsin State Fair Centennial year of 1948 when I showed a purebred Jersey calf. The major difference of our show ring experience was in the final placing of our animals. I ended up with a fifth-place ribbon, and this year, Jacob reached the pinnacle of success by garnering the grand champion ribbon of the Suffolk breed in a competitive class of 30 lambs. That placing allowed him to qualify his lamb for the Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction, in which he realized a sale price of $3,000 for his lamb.
The auction is one of the highlights of the Wisconsin State Fair. This year's auction had 26 market steers, barrows and lambs, which brought a total of $230,700.
Sale of the Schulz lamb was not his only highlight. Last year, he emerged as the champion lamb showman of his age bracket.
This year, in his age bracket, he repeated as the champion lamb showman.
Jacob is the son of Jim and Lisa Schulz of 7355 Highway C, Arpin. He has a 13-year-old sister, Martina, who also is a proficient lamb showgirl.
Although their mom and two uncles were brought up as beef cattle exhibitors, Jacob's parents felt that when their kids joined 4-H at an early age, they should gain livestock exhibitor experience by starting out with smaller animals that are easier to handle. They were convinced when handling 100-pound lambs versus 1,000-pound steers.
Jacob said, "Involvement in exhibiting lambs at the Central Wisconsin State Fair in Marshfield and observing lamb contests at the Wisconsin State Fair prepared me to enter animals and participate in showmanship at both fairs.
"We have been buying show lambs for the past four or five years from a producer in the Shullsburg, Wis., area. His daughter has been very helpful in training us on good showmanship tactics," Jacob said.
Jacob shared his secret to success: "To win in showmanship, you need a well trained show-type animal. That can only happen by working daily with your lamb. My sister and I spend two hours each day during the summer working with our animals to prepare them for the show ring. Besides involvement in 4-H and FFA and all sports, I have had a busy summer."
In response to what a judge looks for in showmanship, Jacob said, "He looks for an exhibitor who appears calm and is smooth and fluid in handling the animal and is quick to react to the judges directives. A well-trained animal is essential. I am confident in myself and my animal when we enter the show ring."
Jacob's sister Martina put it all in perspective: "I still have family bragging rights as I exhibited the grand champion lamb at last year's Central Wisconsin State Fair in Marshfield. We are really looking forward to this year's competition to see who comes out on top."