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Sheep take center stage at Shenandoah County Fair

Cayden Ryman, 9, of Strasburg, poses with his sheep Chewie during the Shenandoah County 4-H/FFA Sheep Showmanship Show on Monday at the fairgrounds in Woodstock. Donald Lambert/Daily

WOODSTOCK  – Kids from around Shenandoah County brought their sheep to see who was the best in show during the Shenandoah County 4-H/FFA Sheep Showmanship Show at the Shenandoah County Fair on Monday.

The event featured over 50 entrants competing in over 11 classes. The sheep that are entered are judged by their presentation, which includes their cleanliness and how well behaved they are. Their handlers are also judged by their cleanliness, their sportsmanship and how well they handle their sheep during the judging process. 

The showing kicked off with the light-weight competition. Kennedy Whetzel was the champion of the event, while Marie-Claire des Rosiers was the reserve champion. Luke Whetzel won the medium-weight market lamb competition and also was named the reserve champion of the division.

Kennedy also won the heavy-weight event, while des Rosiers became the reserve champion. Kennedy was also named the overall grand champion of the market lamb division, while Luke Whetzel was named the reserve champion.

While the idea of getting sheep show-ready may sound like an easy one, 17-year-old Emily Rexrode, of Quicksburg, who was in her third year of showing off sheep, said that it requires a lot of time and dedication.

“You’ve got to work them a lot,” Emily said. “I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. and work with them until 6:30 when I have to get ready to go to school. It’s a lot of work.”

Emily, who took part in the light-weight and heavy-weight market lamb events, said she originally started off by showing another four-legged animal.

“A friend of mine had a calf, and I started showing it off,” Emily said. “I then started showing off lambs and have been doing it ever since.”

Nine-year-old Cayden Ryman, of Strasburg, entered his first sheep show this year as part of the medium-weight competition. Cayden revealed that his dad got him into showing animals, but said he has had fun working with his sheep, Chewie.

“I have to feed and water him, but I also get to run around with him,” Cayden said. “I have a lot of fun with Chewie!”

The fair continues to run through Saturday.