Individuals who judge youth dairy showmanship contests will be converging for a first-of-its-kind training event, held in conjunction with World Dairy Expo.

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Dairy Farmer / Freelance Writer
Brittany Olson is a dairy farmer and freelance writer from Chetek, Wisconsin. She and her husband...

According to Katie Coyne, WDE youth fitting and showmanship contest superintendent, the showmanship judges’ workshop is a step toward unifying the way junior dairy exhibitors are evaluated during competitions that test their showing and fitting skills.

The Purebred Dairy Cattle Association (PDCA) publishes scorecards and guidelines for these contests; however, Coyne believes there is an opportunity for judges to brush up on their familiarity with the most recent version of these rules.

“There is a core group of people who have worked hard the past few years to help youth learn the showmanship guidelines as they are stated in the PDCA scorecard. Developing a standard takes the ‘preference’ out of the showmanship class and levels the playing field,” Coyne says.

Comments Coyne was hearing from young showmen revealed a need for greater consistency among those judging showmanship competitions, as some judges continue to place youth according to the former standards instead of the most recent ones. This motivated her to pursue holding a judges’ workshop.


Just as youth often learn by doing, Coyne believes judges will benefit from the same opportunity. “We’ve also worked to help judges standardize what they are looking for, so we thought the best way to show them was at a hands-on clinic so they could visualize what the scorecard is saying,” she explains. “In addition, it gives us a chance to talk about positive youth development while judging, as well as answer any questions they may have.”

The format for the clinic is borrowed from north of the border, where Canadian judges are expected to attend a series of clinics to enhance their judging skills. Coyne adds, “We looked at that as our model for this [event].”

Experienced Canadian cattleman David Crack of Richmond, Quebec, will be lending his expertise to the clinic. Crack, who is the dairy solutions director at CIAQ and owns Crackholm Holsteins, judged last year’s senior showmanship contest at WDE and has also judged at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

“David is a very accomplished judge and showman,” Coyne says. He is trained as a teacher and has been the facilitator at numerous judging clinics in Canada as well as taught showmanship to many top showmen.”

Judges will brush up on the basics while honing in on areas of discrepancy.

“The clinic will touch on how to work a showmanship ring, efficiently evaluate participants – even as they enter the ring – ways to sort out the very top of a class and more,” Coyne notes. “This will be in addition to clearly teaching the guidelines and why the rules are written the way they are.”

Something for everyone

The clinic itself will include an overview of the guidelines put forth by the PDCA, aiming to boost judging consistency during showmanship judging contests across North America. In addition to going over PDCA rules, a mock contest will also be held during the clinic. While it is primarily for judges, Coyne says youth are invited to audit from the stands.

“We hope participants will have a clear, concise method for judging showmanship,” she says.

Moreover, Coyne and others who are working hard to put the clinic together hope judges who attend the clinic take what they learn home with them.

“One main goal of the committee is: The participants will take the information back to their local and state organizations and teach it to both adults and youth in their own areas,” she says. “Following the judging contest, we have the leaders of youth programming at the university and state levels, and we hope they will stay, participate and take information back home.”

“In fairness to the youth [who] have spent hours learning these guidelines, we hope the judges will learn them and utilize them in the show ring,” Coyne says.

“Additionally, we will have a specific list of participants we will give to breed organizations and share with organizations that hire judges so they can be assured the judge they hired knows the guidelines.”

There is no cost to attend the clinic, which will be held in Madison on Monday, Oct. 1 at the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum from 2 to 4 p.m.  end mark

PHOTO: Showmanship contests are serious business for both the youth and judges involved. A workshop will be held on the expo grounds to help those evaluating showmanship contests gain more consistency with the guidelines and among each other. Photo courtesy of World Dairy Expo.

Brittany Olson is a freelance writer and dairy farmer in Chetek, Wisconsin.