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Southwestern Shamrocks shine at 2020 and 2021 Shelby Royal competitions

Showing one species of livestock at the Shelby County Fair takes months of preparation.


On Wednesday night at the Livestock Youth Pavilion, five 4-H senior showmanship winners took on the challenge of showing five different species of animals in an attempt to win the Shelby Royal Showmanship Contest.


Already having earned success at the fair this week, Ellie Gosser, Dane Kissell, Kate Spegal, Emily Tyree and Wyatt Schonfeld competed for the prestigious title.


Each presented swine, horses, goats, cattle and sheep to five different judges and answered on-the-spot questions to demonstrate their knowledge of each species.


And when the competition was over, the Southwestern Shamrocks 4-H group had plenty to celebrate.


Kissell (main photo), a rising junior at Southwestern, was declared the 2021 Shelby Royal champion. One night earlier, fellow Southwestern junior Camille Thopy was crowned the 2020 Shelby Royal champion -- a year later than planned.


“This is pretty special. I’ve been doing 4-H my whole life,” said Kissell. “I have seen people win this and it’s good to be in that group as one of the top showmen out here.”


Jeff Brown photo

Dane Kissell leads his randomly-selected cattle around the show arena at the Youth Livestock Pavilion Wednesday night during the Shelby Royal competition.


Kissell is most familiar with swine, which was the first animal to be shown Wednesday. He admitted to letting his frustration show a little too much with a cantankerous animal and had to refocus to move forward.


“I show pigs and I like them to be nice and show well for me. It agitated me there a bit,” said Kissell. “I had to move on and put my best foot forward and do well in the rest of the events.”


Gosser, who captured the Senior Showmanship title Monday night, also attends Southwestern. Spegal attends Triton Central and Tyree goes to Waldron.


Schonfeld is a Morristown graduate attending Purdue University.


The 2020 Shelby County Fair was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That forced Thopy to wait another year to compete.


The 2020 Shelby Royal was held Tuesday at the Livestock Youth Pavilion.


Jeff Brown photo

Southwestern rising junior Camille Thopy was crowned 2020 Shelby Royal champion Tuesday night at the Shelby County Fair.


“I was very pleased with the animals I got,” said Thopy, who celebrated with Kissell after the event. “Some of the larger animals you kind of seek out the ones that potentially can be in the royal. Not so much the smaller animals but the larger animals have tempers that are harder to handle.”


Each of the six species superintendents (cattle is separated in dairy and beef), in cooperation with the Shelby Royal Committee, assist in procuring animals and supplies needed for the competition. Each contestant is then provided with supplies and an animal to show.


“I show every species but pigs so my weak point would have been the pig but I was able to work with a past 4-H (member) to learn more about hogs and how to show them,” said Thopy.


Kissell took a similar route to prepare but had to study more species than Thopy.


“I found people that I know that has the livestock that I don’t show and work with them to get your best ideas,” said Kissell.


Jeff Brown photo

Kate Spegal demonstrates her swine-handling skills for a judge Wednesday at the Shelby County Fair.


The event does not focus on the grooming of each animal but rather the handlers’ ability to control each species, understand the species, and present them correctly.