Ewe-tiful sheep showmanship sheds fun, healthy competition at Moffat County Fair | CraigDailyPress.com

Ewe-tiful sheep showmanship sheds fun, healthy competition at Moffat County Fair

Sasha Nelson/For the Craig Daily Press

Sheep Judge Ben Williams of Hutchinson Kansas inspects Darren McLaughlin's Hampshire ewe during the Senior Showmanship Competition.

Moffat County Fair continued Wednesday with the sheep show, acceptance of pavilion entries and Junior Rodeo.

From his seat overlooking the show ring in the main livestock barn, Moffat County extension agent J.D. Sexton couldn't be happier with how smooth things are running.

"The competitiveness and quality here are second to none," said Sexton. "Moffat County is one of the biggest sheep producing counties in the country with the fair providing an opportunity to highlight our top-quality sheep."

Participants were in full fair mode, showing off their animals that they've worked with all year long.

"I like that I can raise and care for animals," said competitor Morgan Flanders, who is part of the Elkhead Wranglers 4-H club and has shown sheep at the fair for the past six years. After a final pat to remove the sawdust from the shorn coat of Buddy, the Suffolk-Hampshire lamb, Flanders is ready to head into the ring.

"I'm not nervous. It's a lot of fun," Flanders said.

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Darren McLaughlin is in his final year of showing sheep at the Moffat County Fair. "I plan to go out with a bang for my last year," said McLaughlin.

The 19-year-old is on track, winning Grand Champion Sheep Senior Showmanship competition. The key to success in the show ring is to be "calm, cool and collected," McLaughlin said.

"I've been doing this my whole life. I raise all the sheep myself and show everywhere that I can," said McLaughlin, who is a three-time state champion.

Several generations of family members pack the grandstands flanking the sheep show ring. For many, raising sheep is a way of life and family business. From her seat Peggy Griffin, McLaughlin's grandmother, proudly watched her family's hard work being recognized by the judge.

"I rejoice in my grandsons showing the sheep we raise," Griffin said.

McLaughlin Griffin Sheep raise Hampshire sires and dams sold across the nation.

It takes hard work and long hours to raise award-winning sheep and children.

"We spend eight hours a day almost every day at the barn," said McLaughlin's mother Kelly McLaughlin. "We might be finished by midnight tonight," she laughed.

"Fair provides an opportunity for entire families to get involved in agriculture. Community support and volunteers, like livestock Superintendents Dr. Kelly Hepworth and John Welman, are what makes the Moffat County Fair special," Sexton said.

The community barbecue 4-H and FFA Awards and Junior Livestock Sale which will start at 4 p.m. Saturday is the culmination of fair bringing everyone together.

"We hope the community will come out in support," Sexton said.