Babies play to the crowd at Ag Expo

August 04, 1998

Ag Expo Baby contestBy SHEILA HOTCHKIN / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer [enlarge]

When Susan Saunders heard about the Ag Expo baby contest, she knew she wanted to enter her 10-month-old daughter Sarah Elizabeth. But she was not sure what her husband would say.

He surprised her.

"I got home and said, 'I'm going to enter her in the contest,'" Susan Saunders said. "I thought he'd say, 'That's stupid.' But right away, he said, 'I'm going to build a milk truck.'"

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Mark Saunders homemade milk tanker truck, a miniature of the one he drives for Horst Milk Transfer, helped his daughter take the blue ribbon in the contest's nonwalking division.


"You couldn't beat the milk truck," said Ruth Shipley of Hagerstown, who was a judge for the competition. She said the judges were looking for workmanship of the baby's costume and vehicle, originality and neatness of the baby.

The milk truck and child scored a 96 out of 100 points based on those criteria.

Mark Saunders built the truck in eight days, constructing a truck cab around a wagon and using scrap metal to form the tank. A neighbor painted cows around the truck.

"They took her around the block the other day," said her grandmother Shirley Shaffer, who said they wanted to see if the little girl liked her new toy.

Battery-powered headlights and taillights completed Sarah's truck, which her father worked on right up until the competition.

As Sarah, accompanied by her father, took her turn in front of the crowd, the announcer read from her script: "Ever since I arrived, I've been daddy's little girl."

Sarah took the competition seriously, staring soberly at the crowd from her perch during the competition.

"She's a pleasant little thing, but she wouldn't smile," Shaffer said.

Craftsmanship also gave the edge to Deven Rosemary Moore, a Keedysville baby who won the walking division.

She was dressed in a homemade Little Bo Peep costume, complete with a shepherd's crook bearing a bright pink bow.

As the tiny blonde ran to scoop up her stuffed sheep, the announcer told the audience she loves everything from shopping to tractor pulls.

Kyle Clayton Bywaters didn't get a blue ribbon, but he didn't let it bother him. The crowd-pleaser raced up and down before the audience on his tractor-shaped tricycle, shrieking excitedly.

He set the crowd to laughing as he posed for every photographer he saw, grinning and hopping up and down on the tricycle.

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