COLUMBIA CITY — After spending several hours judging Large Animal Round Robin showmen at the Whitley County 4-H Fair last Wednesday, judge Tom Yount, of Fishers, went on to applaud Whitley County — not only for the showmen in the ring.

“This county has a huge reputation,” Yount said. “To get a letter from Whitley County asking to judge anything is a very prestigious thing to put on your resume. The depth, history and background of this county and the people who have been through this county is legendary.”

Yount thinks Whitley County is one of the best 4-H programs in the state.

“If you mention the top 5 counties in Indiana, out of 92 of them, I guarantee Whitley County is one of them,” he said. “You should give your producers and yourselves a big round of applause.”

The show started off well beginning with the first class — the horses — which can struggle being brought into a show barn when they are typically shown in an open ring.

“Those horses couldn’t have acted any better,” Yount said.

It wasn’t just the horses that were well-broken.

“It continued,” Yount said. “I was really impressed with the animals they brought in for these kids to work with. Hats off to those who supplied the animals for the contest. You should be congratulated for that.”

Yount’s impression of agriculture in Whitley County began long before he judged this year’s round robin. For the past several years, the Columbia City FFA and 4-H livestock judging teams have been successful, and Yount has experienced that firsthand from his work in Fishers.

“Your judging teams have flat dominated livestock judging,” Yount said. “Not only in Indiana, but across the U.S. There’s not a contest they haven’t won. Every weekend we get our heads bashed in by you guys.”

Having individuals who are experts at judging animals lends itself to having a strong 4-H program, Yount says.

“These people know what good animals are and they go out and raise or purchase them. They know how to feed them and take care of them. That’s why Whitley County has such proud traditions — it’s unbelievable.”

Local residents agree that Whitley County has an excellent 4-H fair. The following comments were posted on the IN|Whitley County Facebook page responding to the question, “What makes the Whitley County 4-H Fair so great?”:

Jennifer Krider: The continued tradition, unyielding commitment to community, and the dedication to our youth makes the Whitley County 4-H Fair a snapshot in time that appears every year. It’s something so special that unless you actually experience it, you can’t fully understand it.

Jeff Geiger: The great people who volunteer their time to keep the fair a traditional and free fair.

Samantha Barnett: Our amazing farming community coming together to make memories together. And seeing so many young kids working hard to achieve their goals and dreams! And of course, the animals.

Roxanne Reiff: I like that it is just the 4-H fair. No midway. A real county fair.

Mandy Yohe Hartman: All the awesome families!

Angela Bills Miller: Community coming together to support those in need… like the Whitley County Rabbit Club auctioning off the bunny of a girl who was in a tragic car accident in June. They sold the bunny not once, but TWICE.

Angie Nix Reimer: It is an amazing family tradition for our community.