Sheep Show inspires tradition, dedication among participants

By Blythe Alspaugh

SIDNEY—Showing sheep is something of a family legacy for Avery Shaffner.

“My grandpa did it, his parents did it, so it just kind of fell into my lap,” Shaffner, 13, said following the Junior Fair Breeding Sheep Show Wednesday afternoon.

Shaffner has been showing sheep since she was three years old. This year she showed her southdown sheep, and walked away with the 2019 Grand Champion award for sheep showmanship. After months of preparation leading up to the sheep show, Shaffner is happy to have achieved her goal despite the many challenges she faced in the arena.

“Just getting it to stand still, getting it to walk, getting it to do what you want to do; you have to be the boss. You can’t let it control you, you have to control it.” Shaffner said. “Everything else comes with the walking, the setting up, the getting it to stand still.”

Shaffner had assistance from Mallory Havenar, 13, while showing her sheep. While Havenar herself does not show sheep for 4-H, as an animal lover, she enjoys helping her friend show.

“I know Avery through school and she asked me to help her. My responsibility is to set mostly the back legs,” Havenar said.

Casey Copeland, 20, has been showing sheep her entire life. Attending her first show at three months old, Copeland has learned responsibility from taking care of sheep since she was able to walk one around a pen.

“I enjoy it. It’s what I’ve always done,” Copeland said.

Copeland showed Columbia sheep, natural colors, Cheviot sheep, and assisted with showing other breeds at Wednesday’s show. Focused on doing well and being the best that she can be out in the arena, Copeland’s favorite part of participating in 4-H has always been showing sheep.

“I enjoy showing and representing the sheep well to the judge, to see,” Copeland said.

This focus and determinated helped Copeland secure best ram for her cheviots, something she finds exciting.

Abigail Barhorst, 12, has shown sheep for four years now.

When asked what the biggest challenges she found while working with her sheep, Barhost responded, “working them every night, and having to go to grandma and grandpa’s house to work them.”

Barhorst has spent the last four months working with her sheep nearly every night, walking them, setting them, and trucking them. It’s a lot of work, but it’s an experience she finds enjoyable.

Showing texels, katahdins, and dorsets in Wednesday’s show, Olivia Voress, 13, enjoyed showing her texels the most.

“He’s more fit for the fair, and others we just pulled off the pasture and worked with them,” Voress said.

For Voress, preparation for a show can take as long as you need. The longer you work with them, the easier it is in the arena. “You can work with them as much as you want, it depends on how much you want them to be able to walk nice for you,” Voress said.

One of the bigger challenges, in Voress’ eyes, is running out of time before the show begins to ready her sheep. Sometimes they lay down in the pen and get dirty, and she has to clean them off as quickly as she can before bringing them into the arena to be judged. The greatest reward, and Voress’ favorite part of showing, is everyone working together and having a great time showing.

“If you want to show, try it out, because people will be there to help you,” Voress said.

By Blythe Alspaugh