NEWTON COUNTY — Winning the Supreme Showmanship title is family tradition in the Berenda household.
But while Austin and Hayden Berenda won two titles each at the Newton County Fair, little sister Stephanie claimed win No. 3 on Friday, edging out five other challengers on a wet and rainy afternoon.
Stephanie, the top showman in the beef barn to earn a spot in the showmanship final, wowed the judges with her knowledge and handling of six species, including horse, dairy, swine, goat, beef and sheep.
The event started at the horse barn, moved to the sheep barn where exhibitors showed dairy, beef, goat and sheep and finished at the swine barn.
Stephanie credits web-surfing and her brothers for putting her on the path to victory.
“I’m kind of a nerd,” she said. “It’s the work ethic I gained from school. I do research and go on websites and will spend as many as three nights studying each and every species.”
When confronted with a tough question, she’s able to “pull it out of my back pocket.”
“But my brothers are the big reason I’m here,” she added. “Austin and Hayden have taught me more than my parents. No offense, mom.”
Stephanie is the daughter of Wade and Amanda Berenda. She has won titles in 2019, ’20 and ’21 and will go for a fourth in 2022. Austin won titles in 2013 and ’15 and Hayden won titles in 2016 and ’17.
A South Newton High School senior-to-be, Stephanie has her sights on becoming the first four-year showmanship champ since Randy Smith won titles from 1995-98.
Ironically, Smith currently serves as superintendent of the Supreme Showmanship event. His daughter, Riley, a two-year member of 4-H, competed against Stephanie on Friday.
“I hope she beats me. Then hopefully my daughter can beat her,” Smith said with a laugh.
“She’s very deserving,” Smith said of Berenda. “She works really hard.”
Joining Riley Smith and Stephanie in the showmanship event were Brett Vanderwall, representing the dairy barn; Hannah Vanderall of the swine barn and a 10-year member of Newton County’s 4-H; Mckenna Schleman of the goat barn; and Cheyenne Cahill of the horse barn.
Stephanie said she is familiar with five of the species, but had to do prep work with the horses.
“I want to thank the Groovers,” she said. “They let me work with their pony. They’ve been awesome and gave me tips on how to improve by showmanship.”