The Indiana State Fair 4-H Grand Drive is where each year an unforgettable dream comes true for just a handful of 4-H youth. It’s a huge opportunity just to take to the floor of the Indiana Farmer’s Coliseum for a chance to win grand champion, and emotions go sky high when the winners are announced. Witness 19-year-old Melissa Rudolph of LaPorte County.
“Really, I’ve never experienced anything like this,” she said. “This is my first time in the Grand Drive at the state fair, and wow, I’ve never experienced anything like that before.”
Her dairy steer was name Grand Champion Sunday night. In Melissa’s case, the win comes after many years of hard work and the experience she picked up along the way.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into this. We walk and wash steers every day, most of the time twice a day. There’s an intensive feeding program, and I’m a true believer if you start with a decent animal and you can feed it out to its full potential. So just learning how to feed over the years got me to this, and starting with a decent animal obviously.”
The Grand Champion Market Barrow was shown by Cody Maxwell from Porter County and Morgan Township High School where he’ll be a junior. Being in 4-H and showing livestock have taught him good lessons for life.
“Dedication, keep after hard work and good things will come,” he told HAT. “You know you lose a lot more times than you win, so you have to keep on fighting after you lose and one of these days you’ll get out there and win.”
Those thoughts were echoed by another of the night’s winners, Lane Slaton, a Hamilton County high school sophomore.
“It just teaches you a lot of perseverance. Not all of them are going to be like this one. You’ve got to keep trying to get to this point. It feels awesome!”
Slaton had the Grand Champion Market Lamb. Other grand champions were Meat Goat Wether, Ethan Beaman, Cass County; Rabbit Meat Pen, Paige Gauck, Decatur County; Beef Steer, Remington Brumbaugh, Dekalb County.