MaKenna Burmeister, Rowley, center, visits with Jack Ward, left, beef judge at the Best of the Best showdown held last month in Marengo. Burmeister earned top honors in the market beef show at the Benton County Fair to qualify to go to state.

MARENGO- While competition at the Benton County Fair was completed weeks ago and the Iowa State Fair is just days away, seven Benton County 4-H youth had the opportunity to participate in the Best of the Best show held at the Iowa County Fairgrounds, Marengo, Saturday, July 27.

The Best of the Best was one of 10 regional showdowns across the state with the All-Iowa Showdown Sunday, Aug. 4, in Britt at the Hancock County Fairgrounds.

The All-Iowa showdown was created in 2017 which allowed for the regional champions to show head-to-head. This past weekend youth from 10 regional shows across the state competed for top honors.

“Regional showdowns have been going on since 2005,” Mary (Kaiser) Veatch, Best of the Best committee member, shared. “The show was in Donnelson and called the Southeast Iowa Showdown.”

Veatch, a former Benton County 4-Her, and her husband, Rob, invited 10 counties to Iowa County in 2015 to participate in the first Best of the Best showdown which was held in 2016. Counties invited were: Benton, Iowa, Jones, Grundy, Tama, Poweshiek, Linn, Cedar, Keokuk and Buchanan.

The show was created to give the county fairs grand champions a chance to show head-to-head.

The Iowa County Fair board built a new show barn in 2015. “It was discussed locally that the barn needed to be used more than five days a year,” Veatch explained.

“The Iowa County Fair board wanted to see their facility being used but didn’t have the man power,” she explained.

With the initial invitation of the Best of the Best, each county was asked to have the one or two volunteers to help raise monies to cover the costs; help plan the show and set guidelines for the show.

“This group meets roughly about once a quarter by teleconference,” she added.

“Our committee members all agreed that qualifying members are not charged an entry fee,” Veatch said. “Our focus has to be about Iowa youth with a passion for livestock.”

Local champions participating at Marengo from Benton County were:

Breeding heifer — Will Schanbacher, Atkins;

Breeding meat goat — Tyler Atkinson, Blairstown;

Breeding ewe — Ellie Karr, Newhall;

Breeding gilt — Justin Engelking, Keystone;

Market meat goat — Adam Ahrendsen, Clutier;

Market lamb — Aiden Campbell, Newhall;

Market hog — Adam Ahrendsen, Clutier;

Market beef — MaKenna Burmeister, Rowley.

The showdown is an “amazing opportunity for our kids,” Erin Burmeister, MaKenna’s mom, said about the opportunity for her daughter to show.

“It is so neat that they make a big deal about the kids that were showing,” she added. “As each competitor entered the ring, the announcer introduce each of them and had a bio to share something about each of the kids.”

A first year 4-Her “MaKenna realized that this was a great opportunity” and that all her hard work “was for more than one day,” Burmeister stated.

In fact, MaKenna will be representing Benton County at the Iowa State Fair Saturday, August 10, in the Governor’s Charity Steer show. The event is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

“Pete and I both showed at the county fair level and didn’t have the opportunity like the showdown,” she added.

Benton County had two champions crowned during the July show.

Tyler Atkinson earned top place in with the breeding doe and Aiden Campbell was named top market lamb.

This year, participating counties at the Best of the Best show were Benton, Buchanan, Cedar, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, Jackson, Jones, Keokuk, Linn, Poweshiek, Scott and Tama counties.

The Veatchs spending many hours of their personal time during the year to organize the event.

“This is a big passion of ours and something that we take a lot of pride in,” Veatch explained. “But by no means do we do this alone. We have an awesome committee who is just as passionate as we are about the event. It takes all of us to organize this show.”