Sanders takes home FFA Market Lamb honor at State Fair

Phoebe Sanders of Eagle Grove has been hoping to “walk across the street” at the Iowa State Fair for years. This walk refers to more than a casual stroll; it is actually what competitors call it when they win one of the top livestock honors at the fair and get to display their animal in the Hall of Champions. This year, Phoebe’s dream came true when she won Reserve Grand Champion in the FFA Market Lamb category.

Phoebe, who just graduated from C-G-D High School, explains that she has been showing livestock for years. She’s been in 4-H since she was in fourth grade and FFA since she could join as a freshman. With older siblings also showing livestock, it was a family activity that she also got involved in. She says that initially, she showed pigs and was pretty successful with that. She eventually met Ty Allen, the owner of Allen Show Lambs. Phoebe credits Allen for helping her get started showing lambs, which she has been doing for the last 5 years, and over the next few years, won her division and got Grand Reserve in the lightweight division.

This year, Phoebe entered her lamb named Big Al in the wether market lamb category. He was from Al Schminke Livestock of Iowa, and at 142 pounds, was classified as a heavyweight. When Phoebe won champion in the Heavy Weight Wether category, she moved on to the next level where all the wether winners are judged against each other. Phoebe walked away with the Reserve Champion award, just behind Champion winner Brooke Kuesel of Victor.

With over 320 lambs shown in the Market Lamb competition, Phoebe’s reserve grand champion award is a noteworthy accomplishment. Phoebe said it was a dream come true for her but also something that did not happen overnight. She explained her rigorous training schedule that helped her prepare for the fair. She says she spent hours each day working with Big Al, walking him up and down her driveway and on a treadmill. She rinsed his legs and practiced standing with him for showmanship with her brother Denton sitting in the judge’s position. She explained that the judges look for muscle, build, balance and soundness in addition to showmanship. She joked that her family and friends barely have seen her the last several months because of the time spent working with her animals, but Phoebe doesn’t regret it for a second. She says, “You can’t stop working because if you do, you’ll come up short.”

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