SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Sheep Shearing Champion Loren Opstedahl of Peadmont, S.D., has another win under his belt. Opstedahl’s speed and neat and efficient cuts helped him defeat the competition today in the Illinois State Fair Sheep Shearing Contest.
“Shearing is a competitive style,” Opstedahl said. “You’re competing against each other and you’re competing against the animal and you just try to do the best you can.”
Opstedahl just returned from the 2010 World Championships in Wales and was a top qualifier. His titles include National Champion in 2006 and 2010 and he is now a three-time Illinois State Fair champion.
Opstedahl, 38, has been shearing sheep for 21 years, including 12 years competitively.
“My father had sheep and he taught me how to shear them. Then I got to where it was a career. I was making money and getting a living out of it,” Opstedahl said. “It just gives you a little adrenaline, thrill and its fun.”
The shearing contest is not only fun for the competitors, but also the spectators. The stands in the goat barn were full of onlookers eager to watch the competition, which is very fast-paced.
Speed is not the only factor in a competitor’s score, though. Other factors include the condition of the fleece, the handling and appearance of the sheep and the number of cuts left by the shears. The competitor with the highest point total takes home a ribbon, a platter and a check.
Other awards also are presented besides Champion Shearer. Jim Davis of Odell, Ill., was the Best Illinois Shearer. Fastest time went to Tony Troendle of Rapid City, S.D., who sheared three sheep in a swift five minutes and twenty-six seconds. Mike Hagens, the second place finisher and a resident of Mandan, N.D., took Best Condition of Fleece and Best Pen went to Alex Moser of Steen, Minn.
HOG AND HUSBAND CALLING CHAMPS CROWNED
Seats filled quickly at the Lincoln Stage for the Illinois State Fair Hog and Husband Calling Contests, a long-time favorite of fairgoers.
Kyle Barton, of West Des Moines, Ia., took first place with his one-of-a-kind hog call, while last year’s winner, Nathan Broaddus of Raymond, placed second.
Afterward, Barton shared the secret to his prize-winning call.
“You need to have some variety,” Barton said. “There is the snort and, of course, ‘here piggy, piggy, piggy!’”
The Illinois State Fair is one of three hog calling competitions in the Midwest that Barton plans to enter.
Last minute entrant Nancy Allison of Moro, Ill., a member of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, serenaded her husband and the judges alike with her winning call.
Although a rookie to the competition, Allison says she has years of experience calling her husband, who welcomed his wife’s call with a kiss. Terry Dickson of Springfield placed second.
FARMER’S LITTLE HELPERS OFF TO A STRONG START AT 2010 ILLINOIS STATE FAIR
The first weekend of the 2010 Illinois State Fair has seen a steady stream of visitors to one of the fair’s new exhibits, Farmer’s Little Helpers.
Farmer’s Little Helpers, located next to the Illinois Department of Agriculture Tent in the Gate 2 area, teaches children about steps in food production process from the farm to their plate. The exhibit is designed for youngsters age three to ten and features hands-on activities like raising farm animals and tending to crops.
“We have really seen a lot of families and their children come in and enjoy what the Farmer’s Little Helpers exhibit has to offer,” Erica Filipiak, exhibit supervisor, said. “The children especially have enjoyed the cow milking parlor and the opportunity to dress up like a farmer.”
Filipiak said Farmer’s Little Helpers creates a fun and interactive atmosphere for youngsters to learn about agriculture.
“It’s nice to have something that the kids can do that’s fun, but also is educational,” she said. “It’s a good way for kids to learn, but also be a part of the process.”