Hayden Drizzling rain, lightning bolts and rumbling thunder couldn't put a damper on the sheep showmanship and market lamb shows on Thursday afternoon at the Routt County Fair in Hayden.
Junior, intermediate and senior 4-Hers entertained a small crowd of locals, showing their lambs through the sometimes rainy weather. Squealing pigs and mooing cows watched on, as the lambs were walked around by contestants in the show ring.
Children age 3 to 7 began the shows, presenting their bum lambs to judge Trent Hollister, a livestock judging coach from Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo. Bum lambs, which are either lambs without mothers or triplet lambs, seemed to touch the hearts of at least some crowd members.
Local rancher Cynthia May said the bum lambs are good for young children because the care that is involved in nourishing them teaches the youth responsibility. Since the lambs often have no mothers, May said, they can become attached to whomever is in charge of feeding them.
"Little kids just love bum lambs," May said.
While the bum lambs were heart-warming, the sheep showmanship and market lamb classes were the major events of the day.
Hollister, who judged all three contests, spent about three hours inspecting the sheep, and talking to children on how to improve the quality of their animals.
"Basically, I try to tell the kids what's wrong with the lamb and give them pointers," Hollister said.
Hollister described the differences in judging showmanship and market shows.
"Showmanship is very different from a market show," Hollister said. "You're looking for the individual's ability to present the animals and also to present themselves."
Showmanship contestants are expected to have clean animals that are sheared well, and contestants need to keep themselves presentable, by wearing collared long-sleeve shirts, for example.
Market lambs, which are sent straight to a slaughterhouse after the show, are judged more critically. Contestants in market shows are not judged for their own appearance.
"It's almost like a body-building contest," said Hollister about the market show.
Market lambs mainly are judged by length, trimness, profile and balance.
As members of the crowd admired the young contestants, loud "bahs" often sounded off in rhythm and contestants struggled to keep the lambs under control and within their grasp.
Shiloh Gates was grand champion of the market show, followed by Tommy Rossi, who won reserve champion.
Rossi, of Yampa, gave most of the credit for his first-place finishes to his training regimen over the past several months.
"It starts with getting a good lamb off the bat," Rossi said. "Then, it's all about hard work for the next four or five months. The right feed, the right exercise and a positive attitude."
Glenda Long, who won first place in the junior showmanship division, said she owed her performance to knowing what to expect from the judge.
Whit Gates, who won first place in the intermediate showmanship division, gave a similar response.
"I had (my lamb) set up at all times and was in control," Gates said. "I moved slow and watched the judge."
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