Animals get cleared for fair competitions

August 9, 2018
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Sarah Nemich, 12, of Darrington controls her 8-month-old sheep Maxwell as veterinarian Kevin Jacque from the Chuckanut Valley Veterinary Clinic performs a check Tuesday at the Skagit County Fairgrounds in Mount Vernon.

MOUNT VERNON — Moose, a 6-month-old Suffolk-Hampshire sheep, joined about 700 other animals Tuesday at the Skagit County Fairgrounds to be cleared for competition by a veterinarian.

During the vet check, animals ranging from horses to cats are checked for ailments such as respiratory problems and mites, said livestock coordinator Margaret Olson.

She’s been helping out at the fair for the past six years, she said, and grew up participating in 4-H in the county.

Among the crowd of bleating sheep and patient owners was 12-year-old Sarah Nemich, who entered her 8-month-old ram, Maxwell, in the fair.

If cleared by the vet, he’ll take his place in a barn full of other sheep that have also been cleared to compete.

For the judged events, owners compete as individuals or as members of organizations such as 4-H and the National FFA Organization. Owners are judged on showmanship, while their animals are judged on qualities such as conformation.

Animal judging events begin today with poultry and end Saturday with chicken races.

Moose’s owner, 4-H member Aubrey Linton-Roppel, said she has spent around 200 hours caring for the sheep over the last 78 days in preparation for the fair.

Showing at the fair is also an entrepreneurial endeavor, Washington State University 4-H Program Coordinator Dorothy Elsner said.

For market animals such as sheep, owners spend time marketing their animal to perspective buyers, she said. After the fair, buyers can bid on the animals.

“It’s hard work and dedication,” Linton-Roppel said. “It’s about responsibility for something that’s not yourself.”

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