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