There may have been only one contestant in each division of the Shepherd’s Lead contest, but the lack of competition didn’t stop entrants from putting on a show for the crowd that packed the bleachers in Hurlburt Hall Friday night. The purple ribbon each won in their respective age group — PeeWee, Junior, Senior and Adult — turned out to be a reward for the entrants’ year of effort.
Contestants are graded on four aspects of their showing, including outfit. They can either make or buy a wool outfit. All chose to make their outfits rather than purchase one.
Meredith Olds, 21, won best in show. She has been in 4H for 12 years, and has participated in the Shepherd’s Lead contest for the last 10 years.
She said this year would be her last because she was graduating from Kansas State University. Olds made her outfit, a scarf, vest and matching hat. She said the only year she didn’t participate was the year it was 105 degrees, and wearing wool would have been stifling.
Contestants are also judged on how well the sheep is dressed to match the shepherd. Olds made a zipper vest, scarf and matching hat for the sheep she showed. It wasn’t actually hers; contestants can either use their own sheep or borrow one from someone else. She borrowed one from a friend who had entered it in the sheep judging contest.
The third criterion is how well entrants lead their sheep around the arena. Jacob Wendland, 7, led his sheep around the arena, but when the animal started getting unruly waiting for the judge, he had to walk it in a circle. His sister, Sarah, had mom help her lead the sheep because she was only 3 years old and the sheep stood taller than her.
Jacob said his grandmother made his vest and bow tie, as well as a matching tie and his sheep. It was his first year in the competition, but he wants to do it again next year. Sarah, was all smiles helping lead the sheep around the arena, but when she had to stand before the judge tears welled in her eyes for a moment and her mom knelt close to comfort her.
Contestants were also judged on their knowledge of wool. The judge talked to each contestant, including Jacob and little Sarah, quizzing them before announcing her final decision.
Megan Ewell won the senior division.