Minis @ the Minnesota State Fair!
By: Sue Morgan
Yes, it’s true, for the first year, two of our mini llamas were shown @ the MN State Fair. Wow! A year ago I would not have thought it would happen, but thanks to many helpers along the way, it did.
About a year & a half ago, I had a call from an alpaca owner, Dana Tiedeman, saying that her daughter wanted to show in the county fair & would I help her get a 4-H program started in our County? I had been involved just a bit in 4-H when my boys were little, but they had never shown livestock, so I didn’t know where to start. Dana contacted Norris & Kay Berg to get the specifics, then the county extension office & away we went! She worked very hard & we ended up with 7 kids showing @ the county level in 2008. In 2009, I took over as program leader & although we just had 6 kids showing, it went very well. We were hoping and planning for growth, but felt very lucky to have had one participant from 2008 qualify to go to the State level and this year, three qualified! Our other kids did really great, too. It is fun to see families’ gain an interest & enough confidence to buy an animal of their own & watch their skills improve over time.
Two of the State fair participants lease mini llamas from me, as they do not own animals of their own. Katie showed our Rock Solid Ares last year & a beautiful ½ argentine, Rory this year. Megan, started with Oberon & although she still loves Oberon, he has not been gelded yet, so she showed Titan Moon, another small, argentine that is OHHH, so nice! Also, Katie’s brother, John showed Titan @ the county level in Cloverbuds, which the crowd loved! At the county level, Katie achieved grand champion in showmanship last year with Ares & was reserve champ this year in Obstacle. Megan was outstanding in her knowledge of llamas & did her best in the interview, both @ the county & state level. She also designed a really cute soccer costume for Titan with a bright red jersey, but she didn’t show in costume @ the state fair. I’m still not sure why, as with his llama jersey & Nike headband, I thought it was a hoot!
One of the biggest challenges was obtaining the obstacles needed to get this program started. I have to thank Megan’s dad for making the majority of our obstacles. Megan tells me he has even more ideas for next year, after seeing what they had @ the State fair! Now I just have to figure out where to store them during the winter when the barn is full of hay!
Another problem was that I could not take off work to be @ the State fair this year. So how would we get the llamas up there? A good friend, Lynda Carothers transported my two minis so Katie & Megan could experience the State Fair. And they loved it! I was able to come up & watch one evening & the excitement and anticipation of Katie & Megan, and our other fair qualifier, Maxine, was proof that this program is SO worthwhile. Getting a 4-H program going in your area can be a great way to expose others to the joy of owning & showing minis!