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Sheep stylin' at Jefferson County Fair

August 20, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- The young maidens of "Sheep-alot" reigned supreme at the Jefferson County Fair's annual Sheep Style Show on Tuesday evening.

After a quick capture of a 4-year-old Suffolk sheep in the show barn, Josephine Burns, 9, her sister, Anne-Katherine, 12, and their friend, Emma Lindberg, 12, dressed in velvety robes and crowned their accommodating captive with a bit of medieval flair.

The trio's presentation topped "the beach girls" theme assembled by Carrie Orr, 15, Emily Gilbert, 12, and Miranda Godfrey, 11.

They didn't seem disappointed at all. They finished third last year.

"It's just fun," said Emily, who is showing goats and rabbits in the fair, too.

When asked what they planned to do with their second-place prize money, Emily said she planned to go shopping.

Miranda planned to "put it in the bank."

And next year they hope to win at the fair, from which neither could pick a favorite event.

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"I don't like when it's over," Emily said.

The style contest was just the beginning of a string of annual competitions. Josephine Burns said she planned to enter the water balloon toss and the three-legged race after she helped corner one of Harry and Linda Puster's sheep brought especially for the competition, not for the livestock shows.

In the sheep barn Tuesday night, Kelly Mansfield said she didn't think she would have time to trim the wool of her Border Leicester for this morning's show.

"The more crimps per inch, the softer and finer the fleece is," Mansfield explained while parting the wool on one of her rams to reveal a squiggly pattern.

Jefferson County's fair was her third consecutive exhibition in as many weeks, a circuit that began with the Howard County (Md.) fair and then at the Montgomery County (Md.) fair.

After Jefferson County, Mansfield, the fiber superintendent, said she will show some of the 70 sheep she has at Spring Breeze Farm in Kearneysville, W.Va., at the state fairs in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

"It's part of my income," Mansfield said of the cash prizes that come with showing the animals. "You've got to hit the (fairs) that have good premiums."

The Border Leicester ram she brought to the Jefferson County Fair practically shows himself and stands up to get petted when people come through the barn, she said.

"A lot of people think sheep are so stupid," Mansfield said. "They're not, they're so smart."

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