Violet wins King of the Ring


By Justin Miller - jmiller@aimmediamidwest.com



Emma Violet won the 2017 King of the Ring contest at the Champaign County Fair on Thursday.

Emma Violet won the 2017 King of the Ring contest at the Champaign County Fair on Thursday.


Emma Violet shows poultry during her championship showmanship run on Thursday at the King of the Ring contest.


Colby Watson showcases a llama to the judge Thursday night at the King of the Ring contest.


Johnathan Reed listens to instructions from judge Maggie Neer, a former King of the Ring champion.


Victoria Ripley works to get her swine in position for the judges during the King of the Ring contest.


Runner-up Jake Ripley shows a rabbit at the King of the Ring contest.


Horse showman Leaira Smith works a rabbit during the King of the Ring contest.


Hanna DeLong embraces Emma Violet for a congratulatory hug following Violet’s King of the Ring victory Thursday night. DeLong finished sixth in the event.


The 2017 King of the Ring showmanship contest showcased the best junior showmen in the county, rotating through different species. The contest was a close duel for first place, unbeknownst to the crowd or the competitors – who have no idea where the showmen sit in the standings during the event. In the end, it was Emma Violet by a nose over Jake Ripley, 250-245. Colby Watson was third with 229 points.

Ripley appeared to have the title in hand, as he was by far the most consistent performer, placing in the top three spots in five out of the nine species shown and finishing in the top half of the field in all of them. But Violet surged ahead down the stretch, claiming the top spot in llamas early and then again in both equine and rabbits – two of the final three events. Each first-place finish was worth 50 points, vaulting Violet into the top position.

“I really think my own species helped me a lot, more than anything else,” Violet said. “That really set me up, I think. I like finishing with mine and being proud of it – knowing that I did good at the end of this.”

Still, the win came as a surprise for the veteran rabbit showman, who described the victory as an item on her bucket list.

“It’s crazy. I didn’t see it coming. I thought Heath (Starkey) or Jake (Ripley) or … or anybody. I came in and I was like ‘it’s OK. I’m rooting for them,” she said.

As far as preparation goes, the hours and days leading up to the event can be almost as challenging as the show itself, which is a marathon at two-and-a-half hours. Many competitors take the extra time between their own show and the King of the Ring to find experts in other species and practice with them.

“It was crazy. It’s a lot more work than it looks like,” Violet said. “You have to find the person that you want (to train with) and keep your eyes up for the judge and just put it all out there. Be confident.”

Emma Violet won the 2017 King of the Ring contest at the Champaign County Fair on Thursday.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/08/web1_EmmaVioletKORwinner2017810214045664.jpgEmma Violet won the 2017 King of the Ring contest at the Champaign County Fair on Thursday.

Emma Violet shows poultry during her championship showmanship run on Thursday at the King of the Ring contest.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/08/web1_EmmaVioletKORshow2017810213621427.jpgEmma Violet shows poultry during her championship showmanship run on Thursday at the King of the Ring contest.

Colby Watson showcases a llama to the judge Thursday night at the King of the Ring contest.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/08/web1_ColbyWatsonKOR2017810213659630.jpgColby Watson showcases a llama to the judge Thursday night at the King of the Ring contest.

Johnathan Reed listens to instructions from judge Maggie Neer, a former King of the Ring champion.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/08/web1_JohnathanReed2017810213743507.jpgJohnathan Reed listens to instructions from judge Maggie Neer, a former King of the Ring champion.

Victoria Ripley works to get her swine in position for the judges during the King of the Ring contest.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/08/web1_VictoriaRipleyKOR2017810213821454.jpgVictoria Ripley works to get her swine in position for the judges during the King of the Ring contest.

Runner-up Jake Ripley shows a rabbit at the King of the Ring contest.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/08/web1_JakeRipleyKOR2017810213841884.jpgRunner-up Jake Ripley shows a rabbit at the King of the Ring contest.

Horse showman Leaira Smith works a rabbit during the King of the Ring contest.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/08/web1_LeairaSmithKOR2017810213925814.jpgHorse showman Leaira Smith works a rabbit during the King of the Ring contest.

Hanna DeLong embraces Emma Violet for a congratulatory hug following Violet’s King of the Ring victory Thursday night. DeLong finished sixth in the event.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/08/web1_HannaDeLongKOR201781021409942.jpgHanna DeLong embraces Emma Violet for a congratulatory hug following Violet’s King of the Ring victory Thursday night. DeLong finished sixth in the event.

By Justin Miller

jmiller@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1775) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.

Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1775) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.