Pence earns three Grand Champion titles


TROY — Winning one Grand Champion title was special to Paige Pence — winning three was unbelievable.

“I was speechless — after the first one, I thought, ‘okay, this is going to be hard to top.’ The lamb won, and I was really nervous because the steer show was that night, and then the steer won and I was just overwhelmed with joy,” Pence said.

Pence, who has shown sheep and goats at the fair for the last nine years and steers for the last five, earned her Grand Champion honors for market goat, market lamb, and market steer. She first got into 4H with pigs, making her way toward sheep, goats and cattle as she continued. She credits the support she’s received from the people around her that kept her interest over the years.

“It’s mostly been the people around me who have helped me and supported me over the years that got me into all of these animals,” Pence said.

Grand Champion, to Pence, is more than just a title — it’s a showcase of countless hours of hard work throughout several months in preparation for the fair. Her days begin bright and early, starting with rinsing steers at 6:30 every morning and ending with rinsing them again at night — usually 11 p.m. or past midnight. Between all of that, she wraps her sheeps’ legs every two days, as well as washes and conditions them, and rinses her goats every two days as well.

“It’s your dreams coming true and your goals becoming reality,” Pence said.

With many animals in the barn being prepped for state and county fair, Pence said she had to work harder this year than previous years to make sure that everything looked right with the animals, and that she was spending her time well each day in working with the animals. She described state fair as hectic, showing four species of animals with only herself and her parents running from barn to barn to get ready for various shows, some of which fell on the same day. Despite this, Pence walked away with a Champion goat title from state fair. With the Miami County fair returning to a more familiar pace this year, Pence said that it was great to see everyone out and supporting the junior fair.

“It was nice seeing all these people back, and walking into the arena and seeing the crowd full. It just felt like fair again,” Pence said.

The most rewarding part of the 4H experience, for Pence, has been creating memories with her animals and being surrounded by the livestock industry; while she hasn’t declared a major yet, she knows she wants to study something in the agriculture field and will be attending Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois. Her advice to anyone getting involved in 4H is to ask questions and utilize the people and experts around them.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially at shows. It doesn’t hurt to go and watch a couple of classes before you show. Learn something, ask questions — people in the livestock industry want to help you,” Pence said.

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