Isaac Hart and ‘Norbit’ earn Grand Champion honors at State Fair

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When 12-year old Isaac Hart was helping his “Switzerland Sidewinders” 4-H club with a service project at the Switzerland County Animal Shelter this Spring, little did he know that peering out at him from one of the cages was a champion.

A Grand Champion.

“I got a cat at first just for the fun of having a cat,” Isaac Hart said. “My sister had adopted a cat from the shelter, and she decided to show her cat at the fair, so I decided that sounded like a good idea to me, too.”

That chance meeting between boy and cat led to Isaac adopting “Norbit”, and it also led to a wonderful friendship that now includes a very large purple ribbon.

“Norbit” won the honor of being named the Grand Champion Long Hair Cat at this year’s Indiana State Fair.

“I was pretty excited,” Isaac Hart said about the announcement. “But I just smiled and messed with my cat some more.”

A sixth grader at Switzerland County Middle School, Isaac Hart and “Norbit” earned Reserve Grand Champion honors at this year’s Switzerland County 4-H Fair – right behind big sister, Jaclyn, and her Grand Champion cat, “Oliver”.

“Jaclyn was Grand Champion at the County Fair; and Isaac beat her at the State Fair,” mom Trina Hart smiled. “Both of them are winners.”

Technically, “Norbit” is not a cat.

He’s a kitten.

Isaac Hart explains that any feline six months old or younger is considered a “kitten” by the judges; while those over six months old are classified as “cats”.

Since “Norbit” is about five months old, he was a kitten in the eyes of the judges – but he was also a champion.

Isaac Hart said that he entered the Indiana State Fair Cat Show online, and after paying the $15 entry fee; the family headed to Indianapolis on Monday, August 10th, for the competition. Jaclyn also took “Oliver” for the show; and both entered the cage decorating contest that was held as part of the cat show.

“We checked in and they gave us a cage number so we could do the decorating,” Isaac Hart said. “When the show started, I was the very first one to go up, and I was very nervous.”

The Cat Show was held in the Farm Bureau Building at the fairgrounds, and Isaac said that there were five cats in the “long hair” division with “Norbit”. Overall, more than 100 cats were judged in different categories.

Isaac said that the judge checked “Norbit” out, asked Isaac how old his cat was; how long he had him in his possession; and where he came from. Other contestants in his category were then judged; and after some careful deliberation, “Norbit” was announced as the Grand Champion.

Earning that distinction also meant that Isaac and “Norbit” had to stay around for the “Best of Show” competition at the end of the day; which pitted the five Grand Champions against each other for an overall winner.

Although “Norbit” didn’t bring home “Best of Show” ( “It was a ragdoll cat,” Isaac Hart said of the overall winner. “I talked to the owner. It was a nice cat.”); Isaac Hart still had a great time with his family and his cat at the Indiana State Fair.

The cage decorating competition was also a lot of fun, according to Isaac, who chose to outfit “Norbit’s” cage in a mountain “Alps” theme because it blended well with “Norbit’s” gray fur. The cage earned Isaac another blue ribbon.

So now that he’s a Grand Champion, will “Norbit” lead a life of luxury at the Hart home?

“He’s always led a life of luxury,” Isaac Hart laughs. “He’s always lived in the house. He’s got it pretty good.”

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Isaac Hart is 12 years old and is a sixth grader at Switzerland County Middle School. He is the son of Dan and Trina Hart of near Pleasant; and along with “Norbit”, the family also has two other cats; two dogs; rabbits; sheep; goats; and lots of cows.

– Pat Lanman