After coming up just short a year ago, Coltin Sparks returned to the Delaware County Junior Fair and took home top honors with the Champion Meat Turkey in this year’s Poultry Show, which took place on Sept. 17.
Sparks, who is a sophomore at Olentangy Berlin High School and a member of the Just Lopin’ Around 4-H club, received the grand champion award for his 38-pound bird. Last year, his bird was named the reserve grand champion after being edged out by his younger sister, Sierra. Both Sparks and his sister entered birds into the heavyweight division this year.
“It definitely feels good,” Sparks said of having the grand champion and returning the favor to his sister, although he jokingly added that Sierra still takes all the credit for the win. “She said she gave me the better bird,” Sparks said of his sister’s remarks following his win.
Sparks said the judges are looking for a bird with the best quality of meat on it, particularly in the breasts, thighs and wings. A clean bird also catches the eyes of the judges, he added.
Although his bird ultimately won over the judges, Sparks had to overcome a bit of adversity throughout the process thanks to the air cast on his right foot as a result of a sprained ligament suffered just prior to the start of the fair. Sparks was forced to sit in a chair during the judging and was unable to physically show the bird, which requires straddling the bird to keep it still and flipping the bird upside down for the judges to evaluate.
However, with an assist from his friend and Delaware County Junior Fair Board member Keaton Gladman, Sparks was still able to showcase his champion-level bird to the judges.
“I have to give credit where credit is due,” Sparks told The Gazette. “I didn’t really do too much with the animal. I was kind of just there.”
Of course, simply getting a quality bird to the fair is an involved process that includes daily feeding and watering of the bird, as well as changing out the sawdust in the cage and washing the bird. Sparks’ mother, Mica, said the process became a bit of a family affair with herself and Sierra pitching in to help out.
Asked what he enjoys the most about showing, Sparks said, “I would say just kind of being there with the animal. I just like being there because it’s fun to watch.”