KUTZTOWN, Pa. — During the Kutztown Fair, McKenzie Hansley enjoys spending time with friends and animals.
In the months leading up to the fair’s Aug. 12 sheep show, it was mostly the sheep that got her attention.
McKenzie’s hard work paid off when she received the supreme champion ram and supreme market lamb at the fair.
McKenzie, of Hamburg, worked with her bleaters every day.
She fed them Purina Show Chow and walked them up and down the driveway.
Sometimes she had the sheep walk themselves on a treadmill in the barn. The exercise helps the sheep gain muscle and a nice shape, she said.
McKenzie also spent time trimming and washing her woolly companions.
She loves working with animals and helping her sisters with their sheep. Her favorite charges are the wethers, which are castrated rams.
“Wethers like to listen a lot better than the ewes,” she said.
McKenzie’s supreme champion was a Cheviot that she purchased from Brooke Mazepink, a Chester County breeder.
The sheep is a descendant of Mazepink’s Crown Royal, which won awards at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and other events.
Some 20 4-H’ers showed nine breeds of sheep at the Kutztown Fair. The number of wool sheep increased from last year, said Nancy Bowman, leader of the Berks Sheep & Lamb 4-H Club.
Gloria Gillen, 17, won champion Cheviot ewe and was second in her fitting and showmanship class.
Gillen likes breeding the British breed with the perky ears. While she’s heard Cheviots called “the butcher’s choice,” Gillen said the spry Cheviots also produce good wool.
The Gillen family has eight sheep, but Gloria took just one to the fair. Gillen spent much of show day washing, clipping and preparing the ewe for the ring.
She believes showing sheep has been a character builder.
“It’s hard work, but it pays off in the end,” she said.
While Gillen enjoyed the Kutztown Fair’s traditional breed show, and fitting and showmanship program, her favorite part was the blocking and grooming competition.
The task was to clip and fit a sheep to perfection.
The catch was that the sheep weren’t used to a show regimen. They had spent the summer on pasture or had not been trained for the show ring.
Gillen plans to show her champion ewe at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and then put her in with stud rams.
“She’s definitely a good breeding sheep,” Gillen said.
While the sheep showmen got plenty of learning through good, hard work, Ethan Timer also found time at the fair to socialize.
Timer, 15, of Huffs Church won supreme champion yearling ewe with a White Dorper he bought out of Texas a year ago.
Timer joined Pennsylvania 4-H after his family moved from Mississippi four years ago. The club has been great for “meeting new people, spending time with friends, and working with my sheep,” he said.
After the sheep show and the attending flurry of activity, Timer kicked back with those friends under a shade tree just outside the sheep barn.
“This is where all 4-H friends come,” he said. “All the friends come and hang out and work with sheep.”