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Llamas and owners put their best foot forward at fair

August 07, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Llama spelled backward (and with a bit of poetic license granted in regard to spacing) is: A mall.

Maybe that's where everyone was Wednesday morning. Not enough llama owners showed up for the llama show to be held at the Berkeley County Youth Fair, but, undeterred, Judy Bannon put on a demonstration for a small group of spectators.

Bannon is the 4-H's llama chairperson. "We need to get some more animals here for next year," she told the audience.

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As a dozen or so people lined up along the fairgrounds' horse ring and watched as Nevin Bannon, 16, and Casey Bannon, 9, showed off their llamas and had them work with a few obstacles.

Casey's llama, Alleghany, tried to get down on the ground in the middle of the demonstration and tried to eat the plastic flowers entwined around a free-standing gate erected in the paddock. Walking through the gate and waiting for it to be closed was one of the obstacles.

Minus an inopportune bathroom break, Nevin's llama, Madisonn, performed well and tackled one obstacle the other llama would not - walking over a wooden platform.

"It's fun," said Nevin, who will be a sophomore this fall at Musselman High School. "I like Alpacas better. They're smaller and sometimes you can control them a little easier."

In South America, llamas are used as pack animals. They also are sources of leather, meat and fiber, Bannon told the audience.

Frequently working with the independent-minded animals is crucial, she said. "Sometimes animals do one thing one day and won't do it the next," she said.

To show a llama, children must not only have worked with the animal but also must have properly groomed it, including its nails.

"It's a responsibility thing. That's what the Youth Fair is all about - learning," Bannon said.

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