Porter County Sheriff's Department

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Porter County Fair

Showing up the competition

Thursday, July 26, 2007 12:03 AM CDT




Armed with only a cattle prod, eight Porter County "celebrities" paraded 1,400-pound bovines around the arena during Wednesday night's Celebrity Beef Showmanship Event at the Porter County Fair.  In the end, retiring Valparaiso University President Alan Harre won by a nose -- and four hooves.  The event was a way to highlight the accomplishments of the local notables and draw attention to the time 4-H members put into their animals, Jane Maxwell, the event's organizer, said.  Harre had a leg up in the competition, though, having shown cattle in his youth and spending many recent summers on his son-in-law's Simmental cattle ranch in Nebraska, where he plans on retiring in May.  County Commissioner Bob Harper and Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas rounded out the top three. Harper had experience with 4-H as a boy in rural Lake County and so did Brenda Sheetz with the Porter County Community Foundation, who was a 4-H member growing up on her parents' farm in Pulaski County. Sheetz said her family always had cows, pigs, chickens and horses, but she gravitated toward the sewing and cooking clubs.  Throughout the competition, Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dave Rose's calf was reluctant to move, prompting Sheetz to step in.  "I didn't think it was fair for one of the biggest guys here to have the smallest one," Sheetz said. "And, I wanted one more my size anyway."  Harre, who traded cattle three times during the competition, said all the animals he worked with were exceptionally docile and well behaved.  Maxwell said while the cattle that were easiest to handle were selected for the event, there was an underlying reason for the calmness.  "They'd been shown all day and they're probably all worn out," Maxwell said.  She said the thought of shaking things up crossed her mind.  "We thought about putting a feisty one in the bunch," Maxwell said. "We decided at the last minute that we'd better not."  Maxwell said the competition, which also featured County Councilman Mike Bucko, Porter County United Way President Sharon Kish and Porter County Sheriff David Lain, drew a larger crowd than in past years.  She'll likely consider making it an annual event, possibly having the "celebrities" show pigs next year.


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