Jonathan “Ridge” Webb won the Grand Champion Meat Chickens title for his Pen of 3 Market Chickens on the opening day of the Delaware County Junior Fair on Sept. 17. They were later sold at auction.

“His three chickens weighed in at 9.1, 9.1, 9.2 pounds each,” said Chris Webb, Jonathan’s mother. “That is lucky to get the weight the same since he only had eight chickens to choose from. The judge told us that they were three perfect, identical birds.”

Ridge is a senior at Buckeye Valley High School, president of his FFA chapter, a football captain, and he is taking college courses.

“He was shocked to get grand champion,” Chris Webb said.

Between commitments to football, homework and school, Ridge found the time to answer a few questions about his fair project in his final year of competition.

The Poultry Show turned out to be a long day for Ridge, who lives in Brown Township.

“There were 65 competitors in market chickens and 20 turkeys that went before us in judging,” Ridge said. “It was a long night but worth it.”

His last contest was also his first championship.

“I did receive reserve champion in 2018 for my fancy chicken — large standard breed at the Delaware County Junior Fair,” Ridge said. “I have been at the Delaware County Junior Fair for the last eight years through 4-H and FFA. I did not place high in those years. I have also shown fancy chickens at the Ohio State Fair (2016-2019). I placed a few times but not too high.”

When asked what was different about this year, Ridge said, “I felt as though I spent more time with my chickens this year because I knew it was my last year at the Delaware County Fair.”

Fortunately for Ridge and the other competitors, they were able to participate in a Poultry Show this year despite recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a couple of counties in Ohio. Ridge, like others, followed practices provided by the Ohio Department of Agriculture to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“I never visited any other chicken farms within the time span of having my chickens,” Ridge said. “I also made sure my chickens were away from wild birds.”

In addition to poultry, Ridge said, “I also have shown food crops in the last two years. In 2021 in the Farm and Garden Products Show, I won best Soybean Exhibit. I have assisted other exhibitors in the past with their show when they needed a second person to help them. … My crop farming experience has been through the Buckeye Valley school farm the last two years.”

While he’s also had success with showing food crops, Ridge said, “I enjoy the experience of showing animals, learning more about that animal each year. I also enjoy the atmosphere in the barns, meeting other exhibitors, and learning from them.”

Although he’ll be going to college, Ridge said he’ll be back at the fair.

“I intend to return to the fair in some kind of capacity. It may be in an advisory position. Someday, I may return in the position of a parent who has a child showing an animal at the fair. I would like to return to the fair with a degree in the agriculture field.”

Jonathan “Ridge” Webb poses with the judge after showing the Grand Champion Meat Chickens at the Delaware County Junior Fair. “Ridge” Webb poses with the judge after showing the Grand Champion Meat Chickens at the Delaware County Junior Fair. Courtesy photo

Jonathan “Ridge” Webb with one of his three winning chickens. “Ridge” Webb with one of his three winning chickens. Courtesy photo

By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County. He may be reached at the above email address or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.