Willard High School senior Nathan Benich fulfilled a dream Friday night when he won the 2007 Showman of Showmen contest.
"It's always been one of my dreams to do it," said the second-year participant. "It's all come together and made me happy.
"I thought I'd done well, but I wasn't sure how well I had done," Benich said. "It's a great way to top off the fair week."
Benich, the son of Richard and Heidi Benich, has been a member of the Willard FFA for three years, showing hogs, beef cattle and sheep.
Sabrina Featheringill, of the Norwich Fun Bunch 4-H Club, was the runner-up. Tracy Stockmaster, of the Richmond Workers 4-H Club, earned third-place honors.
The Showman of Showmen contest showcases the champion from each of the following breeds: Beef, rabbits, turkeys, goats, chickens, dairy cows and sheep. The pigs were not part of this year's contest because of a lockdown on the swine barn. Flu-like symptoms in the pigs and two people caused the lockdown.
"Due to circumstances beyond our control, swine (were) not shown," announcer Robin Bauer told the crowd about halfway through the nearly 21/2-hour contest. "But we do have one swine contestant toughing it out."
Bauer's comment prompted a smiling Andrea Fritz, of the Peru Patriots 4-H Club, to wave to the crowd at the Doug Wilson Building.
Nathan Benich said the sheep and cattle were the easiest animals to handle "because I've been around them all my life." Showing the turkeys and chickens were the most challenging because he hadn't been around them as much.
"Dad made me study all summer, so that worked out," Benich added.
The 17-year-old boy also credited St. Paul alumni Tony and Nate Myers and past Showman winners with helping him train for the Showman of Showmen contest. Benich started handling the various animals Wednesday.
He said the Myers brothers' best advice was to "stay calm and remember what you learned and you'll always come out on top."
"You have to be named Nate to be a winner. It's a rule," Nate Myers jokingly told someone after the contest.