By Joel Penhorwood, Ohio Ag Net
It is a spectacle unique among livestock shows — the World Dairy Expo’s Parade of Champions highlights the top animals at the show. Exhibitors lead their banner-draped cattle through a dark arena, across colored shavings (gray in 2022), illuminated by a lone spotlight. The eyes of World Dairy Expo attendees and interested parties from around the globe are fixed on the focus of that spotlight.
A few Ohioans found themselves the in the world’s dairy spotlight as participants in the Parade of Champions at the 2022 World Dairy Expo held in Wisconsin Oct. 2 to Oct. 7. One of them was 14-year-old Colton Thomas from Champaign County, donning white pants, a bow tie and suspenders with his now world-famous Holstein Senior Three-Year-Old Cow, Ms. Triple-T Grateful-ET.
“I was pretty nervous going into it. My body was shaking and my cow was pretty nervous going in, but once we got going, we found the rhythm. It was honestly a pretty cool experience going out there on the colored shavings with no lights other than a spotlight right on you,” Colton said. “It was pretty exciting. It’s the first time I actually won something there pretty big. In the show arena, it’s a pretty exciting moment getting the win. Most kids don’t get that opportunity. I’m blessed to have that. It’s one of the top Holstein shows you can win in North America.”
Good cows, supportive family, and good, old-fashioned hard work are what Thomas credits for his success after he returned home from the show. The eighth grader at Triad Middle School in Champaign County stays busy on his family’s dairy and grain farm, Triple-T Holsteins near North Lewisburg.
“I’m a pretty hard worker. I’m pretty involved in the farm. And I like to show dairy cattle at shows across America,” Colton said. “It’s pretty much all effort and hard work in my opinion and your will to accomplish your dreams with whatever you do in life.”
And these aren’t just any dairy cattle Thomas is showing — they’re some of the finest in the world. Ms. Triple-T Grateful-ET took home Intermediate and Grand Champion titles at the 2022 International Junior Holstein Show.
“She’s scored as a two-year-old, but she’s 87 points right now. Her sire is Goldwyn and her name is Grateful,” Thomas said.
Even amid the bright glow of the spotlight, Colton did not lose sight of what helped to get him there.
“My family, my Mom and Dad are my biggest mentors and supporters. My sisters as well, my uncle, my grandpa — they’re a big part of the farm,” Colton said. “They helped me with everything, chores, making hay and all that fun stuff.”
Colton’s parents are Nathan and Jenny Thomas and his little sisters are Camryn and Kendall. Triple-T Holsteins is owned by a partnership of Colton’s Dad, his uncle Andy, and his grandfather, John Thomas. The Thomas name is renowned in the dairy industry for their excellent show strings.
“We make about a couple hundred acres of hay. We milk about 35 Holsteins and Jerseys, and we have about 100 head overall around the farm,” Colton said. “In the future, I kind of want to be a diesel technician or a mechanic. I may also still be involved in the farm, but I want to have that as a side job to also make money for my career. The main part is if you’re willing to put in the hard work and effort, you eventually will succeed with your dreams or achieving what you’ve always wanted.”
Jenny said his presence at the big show was a story in itself. The day after Colton’s junior show win at World Dairy Expo, he was back at school in Ohio after an all-night drive with a family friend. He returned once again to Madison, Wis. for the Supreme show at the end of the week.
“He had kind of a unique year because he had to go home after the junior show and get back for school and football,” Jenny said. “I promised him a couple of weeks before the show, I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, if you win grand champion, I’ll buy you a plane ticket to come back and show supreme.’ So, guess who had to cough up a plane ticket?”
Colton is also a force to be reckoned with in showmanship, where’s he’s taken home top honors before. In the meantime, he has his sights set on other shows this fall.
“With the cow I won with this year, I’m hoping to take her to Louisville, and the heifer I took to the Ohio State Fair I’m hoping to take to Louisville as well,” he said.
In general, Ohio had a strong showing at the World Dairy Expo. Here are some additional Ohio World Dairy Expo highlights, including other entries into the Parade of Champions.
The Intermediate Champion at the International Holstein Show at World Dairy Expo, Blondin Unstopabu Maple-Red, also received Reserve Grand Champion honors for owners R&F Livestock, K Doeberiener, L Bowen and W Schilling of West Salem. Kiko Solo Jawdroping 1891-ET, owned by Elizabeth Kiko of Salem, won the Winter Yearling Heifer Class, and was later awarded the title of Junior Champion of the 2022 International Junior Holstein Show with the chance to walk in in Parade of Champions.
In the International Junior Ayrshire Show at World Dairy Expo, Bricker Farms Gibbs Carvella stood at the top (and in the spotlight in the Parade of Champions) receiving the titles of Grand Champion Female and Senior Champion Female. She is owned by T, L, A, K & L Bricker and C Binckley of Salem. The second-place Lifetime Component Merit Cow, Toppglen Wishful Thinking-ET, followed as the Reserve Grand Champion Female and Reserve Senior Champion Female. Wishful Thinking was shown by Tanner, Brennan, Marissa and Logan Topp of West Salem. The Reserve Junior Champion Female was the winning Winter Yearling Heifer, On Topp Willy Nilly, exhibited by Keaton and Kinley Topp of Botkins.
The Reserve Supreme Champion Heifer of the International Junior Red & White Show was W-Brook Hottest-Red, exhibited by K Hawvermale, N & C Spreng and H & T Hinz of Wooster. Red & White Junior Champion honors also went to W-Brook Hottest-Red. Hottest was the first place Fall Heifer Calf and in the Parade of Champions as well.
In the International Junior Guernsey Show, Valley Gem Hit It Devora, the winning junior in the Four-Year-Old Cow Class, was named Reserve Grand Champion Female of the Junior Show and Reserve Senior Champion Female of the Junior Show. Devora was exhibited by Hannah Hurst, Brynn Grewe and Kyle Polk of Waynesville. Intermediate Champion honors in the Guernsey show went to the winning Junior Two-Year-Old Cow, Heritage Brook Lb Trillium-ET, exhibited by Springhill and Elmhurst of Big Prairie.
In the International Junior Milking Shorthorn Show the Intermediate Champion was the Junior Two-Year-Old, Jomill Mr Right Aloha, shown by Aubree, Aiden and Alaina Topp of Botkins.
New and re-elected members of the Dairy Cattle Exhibitor Committee include Dusty Schirm and Eric Topp from Ohio. In addition, the Ohio State Dairy Judging Team finished fourth in Reasons in the 101st National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest at World Dairy Expo. The team is coached by Bonnie Ayars. Sarah Quallen from Ohio State finished fourth individually.
In the World Dairy Expo Youth Showmanship Contest, Aubree Topp, from Botkins, finished seventh individually in the Intermediate Division, Amy Hughes from Killbuck finished sixth in the Senior Division and Olivia Finke from London finished tenth individually in the Senior Division.
Complete WDE results can be found at www.worlddairyexpo.com.