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Livestock shows central part of county fair

Kiara Stai, 9, from left, and her sister Katie, 7, of Bird Island, and their grandmother, Kathy Miller-Stai, of New London, groom a Shetland sheep Wednesday to prepare it to be shown at the Kandiyohi County Fair in Willmar. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- Alex Taunton and Tristan Thompson waited with their freshly sheared and washed sheep outside the Kandiyohi County Fairgrounds' sheep barn Wednesday afternoon for their animals' turns to get weighed.

The two New London teenagers said they had a busy afternoon ahead of them to make sure their sheep were ready to be shown in Wednesday evening's 4-H sheep show, as part of the Kandiyohi County Fair.

"We washed them (Tuesday) night and we'll go over them with a rag to clean up any dirty spots before we show them," Thompson, 13, said. "We'll take off any extra hair so they are freshly trimmed."

Just down the road, in the horse barn, Kalina Larsen, 19, of Spicer, was cleaning out her horse's stable.

"I grew up loving horses, but I didn't have horses because I lived in town," Larsen said. "My parents got me riding lessons, and through that, I was offered to lease a horse and that's how I got into showing."

Larsen shows her horse Quinn in six different classes, which test her in both the Western and English styles of riding and in showmanship.

"I love it," Larsen said. "I've always had young horses, so being able to get better each year and doing well competing against the more mature horses is fun. Hanging out with everyone else who shows is always fun too."

Taunton, 16, showed sheep for the first time this year after watching her friends show their sheep in previous years.

"I thought it was interesting," she said.

Getting ready to show starts in the spring, Thompson, who is showing for his fourth year, said.

"You have to make sure you feed them the right amount, take care of them and work with them, which means either lead them or let them run to make them tamer," he said.

Larsen said getting a horse ready to show includes bathing them, cutting their mane short and banding it, clipping their whiskers and ears and making them "pretty."

"I love getting her all ready and pretty to show," she said. "Most of the year they have their rugged winter coat, so it's fun to get them all ready to go in the show ring and make them sparkle."

While Larsen only shows her horse today, both Taunton and Thompson will be busy all week with 4-H livestock shows. Taunton will also show her horse today, while Thompson showed his dog Wednesday and will show his goats today.

The Kandiyohi County Fair, which opened Wednesday, will continue through Saturday. The beef, horse, swine and goat shows are today, while the dairy show is Friday and the 4-H Show of Showmen contest is Saturday.