ClassmatesPublished 9:05am Thursday, August 6, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
CASSOPOLIS – Joshua Wooden and Branna Wyant are used to competing against each other.
They were classmates in Ross Beatty Junior-Senior High School’s Class of 2008 and were reunited again in the swine show standings this week at the 158th Cass County Fair.
Josh, a Penn 4-H member, showed the fair’s grand champion market hog and won champion swine showman.
Branna, a former Penn 4-H member, exhibited the reserve grand champion market hog and the grand champion single market lamb in Monday’s sheep show.
She represented swine in the 2008 Showmanship Sweepstakes.
This summer she finished second in senior showmanship to Josh.
On July 28, 2008, Josh was awarded the $500 scholarship named for late swine agent E. Dale Purkhiser to study architecture at the University of Kentucky, where he made dean’s list.
Josh, 20, said Wednesday that he will continue his architecture studies sophomore year closer to home at Andrews University in Berrien Springs.
He said Kentucky is more “designed-oriented and abstract. Andrews is more traditional, with stuff I can actually build around here. Niles hired them for its downtown.”
Josh also shows sheep, for which he received reserve champion ewe.
Josh showed the champion barrow and the champion gilt, but it was his barrow which advanced to grand champion market hog.
Swine has been Josh’s favorite project area during his years at the Cass County Fair. Through 4-H, he participated in Citizenship Washington Focus.
For Josh, this will be his third trip to Saturday’s Showmanship Sweepstakes.
“They’re all radically different,” but light horses probably pose his greatest challenge, though “I really love draft horses.”
Branna, 19, started showing at the fair when she was 8.
An Albion College sophomore, she has been taking communications and psychology classes.
Branna indicated that a chief difference between showing swine and sheep is that the former is known for its intelligence and personality where sheep are “real dumb.”
“You get connected to them,” she said of her hogs.
Branna, daughter of Doug and Ty Wyant, was done showing, but where some contemporaries were anxious to hit the midway for rides or snacks, she intended to stay at the show arena and play spectator for friends.
“We hang out and play cards,” Branna said. “I live a mile away, so I don’t sleep here, but I come at 8 o’clock in the morning and leave at like midnight.”
“Josh and I were classmates,” she noted Wednesday during the beef show.
“We’re friendly competitors. At the end, we’ll hug each other because we’re happy for each other – whoever wins.”