Three county boys bring home top prize from State Fair

September 09, 1997


Staff Writer

Mike and Mark Creek and Ryan Downey were less than 10 years old when they began helping with the chores on their family dairy farms in Washington County.

They started by feeding the animals and gradually learned through the years the more complex side of the business, such as identifying the animal's hock or how the depth of its heel affects its walk.

The years of experience they accumulated at their parents' side paid off for the boys last month when they won first place in the dairy judging championship at the Maryland State Fair.


The three boys won first place in the team dairy judging category, the first time the award has been brought home to the county since 1969, officials said. The award was given Sept. 30 in the senior division, which is for students ages 15 to 18.

Mike Creek also captured the individual dairy judging championship, which earned him $3,000 in scholarships, said his mother, Mary Creek.

"That was really special," said Mike Creek, who is considering using his scholarship to either attend the University of Maryland or Virginia Tech.

It's been four years since the individual dairy judging championship has been awarded to a Washington County senior. The last person to win the award locally was Brian Schnebly of Clear Spring, Mary Creek said.

Mike and Mark Creek, sophomores at South Hagerstown High School, are twin brothers who live on their parents' 300-acre dairy farm south of Hagerstown between St. James and Funkstown. Downey is a junior at Williamsport High School and lives on his parents' 700-acre beef, dairy and grain farm along Downsville Pike.

Besides learning the dairy business on their own farm, the boys often traveled to other farms on the Eastern Shore, and Carroll and Howard counties to practice judging livestock, said Mary Creek.

"The more you see, the better you get," she said.

"I think it bodes well for the amount of work these young women and men have put into it," said Washington County Extension Agent Jeff Semler.

The three boys competed against seven teams in the dairy judging competition at the state fair in Timonium. Mike Creek competed with 42 other students in the individual category.

The boys judged five major dairy cow breeds. After judging the animals, they had to give a two-minute oral presentation to a judge explaning how they made their decision, Mary Creek said.

Downey has been selected along with three other students in the state to compete in the National Dairy Exposition in Madison, Wis., a national competition for judging held in October. Mike Creek will compete in October in the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.

Other Washington County kids also fared well in the dairy judging competition. Five local students in the intermediate category, which covers ages 11 to 14, won first place in the team dairy judging competition, said Mary Creek.

Those students were Erin Shank, 14, her brother Ryan Shank, 12, both of Hagerstown; Courtney Smith, 13, of Clear Spring; Evan Creek, 13, who is the brother of Mark and Mike Creek; and Jenny Herbst, 13, of Smithsburg.

The Herald-Mail Articles