ALTAMONT — Low humidity and a light breeze flowing through the air created a comfortable venue for this year's 4-H and Junior Dairy Show at the Effingham County Fair Thursday.

“You couldn't ask for a better day than this,” said 4-H and Junior Dairy Show Judge Dylan Reed of Vandalia.

Dairy cattle of all shapes and sizes paraded around the show ring.

Cleo McManaway had a ringside seat to the dairy competition.

McManaway sat behind a large table next to the competition ring informing the audience and participants what cattle were being judged and what ribbons each participant won.

“I've been doing this for 34 years,” McManaway said. “I've always said I've got the best seat in the house.”

While McManaway enjoys his fair duties as ring announcer, he doesn't want a formal title.

“I always tell them I'll do anything you want me to do as long as you don't give me a title,” McManaway said. “If you get a title, then people gripe at you.”

“I enjoy working with the kids,” McManaway said. “I get to see their smiles first.”

Samuel Vonderheide of Stewardson had a smile on his face when he received a Junior Champion ribbon for All Other Breeds.

Vonderheide had several cows to escort around the ring on Thursday and walked away with several first-place ribbons. He woke up early in order to get his cattle ready for show.

“I got up at 3 o'clock to start washing them and getting them ready,” Vonderheide said.

Among the accolades Vonderheide took home on Thursday was First in Winter Class, First in Fall Class and First Winter Yearling.

This was Vonderheide's sixth year showing dairy cattle at the Effingham County Fair. He is starting his sophomore year this fall at Stewardson-Strasburg High School and is a member of the FFA.

Kadence Wolff, who will be a freshman this year at Altamont Community High School, entered the 2-year-old Holstein competition. Her father, Kerry Wolff, watched as his daughter walked the Holstein around the ring in front of the judge.

“You can really tell the animals are enjoying the cool weather,” Kerry Wolff said. “The cows are eating more aggressively and they are being more frisky.”

Wolff said he and his daughter got to the fairgrounds early to prepare their Holstein for the show.

“We got here at about 5:30 (a.m.) and hit the wash rack,” Wolff said.

Alexis VanDyke of Mason arrived at the fairgrounds at around 5:30 a.m. as well. This is VanDyke's third year of competition.

“I really like the cows,” VanDyke said. “I really love animals.”

In addition to the dairy show on Thursday, there was a dairy goat competition, along with a 4-H and Junior Pygmy Goat Show.

Nine-year-old Camden Polanin and his brother, 10-year-old Garrin Polanin, of St. Elmo, brought 12 pygmy goats and six dairy goats to the fairgrounds.

“This is my second year,” Garrin said of the 4-H competition. “It takes a couple of hours to get them ready.”

The brothers have been showing regular pygmy goats for five years in sanctioned shows. This year will be Camden's first 4-H show.

Superintendent of the Pygmy Goat Show, Roberta Phillips, noted the number of goats in Thursday's event is lower this year. Phillips has been superintendent of the pygmy show for over 10 years.

“We have about 35 entered this year,” Phillips said. “We're really down this year. We've had up to 60 before.”

Charles Mills can be reached at or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.