Elegance and class filled the livestock yards at the Stanislaus County Fair when three contestants showcased their model sheep at the Lads and Ladies Lead Class Judging Thursday afternoon. Each young contestant led their sheep around the ring while wearing wool clothing — showcasing both the sheep and the apparel.
“Lads and Ladies Lead is a combined open class, 4-H and FFA event,” said Carrie Northcutt, mother of contestant Katie Northcutt. “The purpose of this activity is to promote the sheep industry by presenting an attractively modeled wool garment with a well-groomed sheep in a manner to give spectators the opportunity to see wool in both its beautiful forms.”
Preparing for the showcase is no piece of cake for the contestants. Prior to the event, each sheep must be conditioned, fitted, and trained to show.
“The items of clothing that we have to wear have to be at least 70 percent wool,” said senior division contestant Katie Northcutt. “I had a great time preparing for this event because not only do I get to model in front of many people, but I also get to do this project with my mom and we get to spend more quality time together.”
The participants and their wooly companions were judged on the garment and appearance of the sheep as well as the coordination in handling between the two.
“It’s basically a pageant for animals and contestants. We get to walk around the livestock area posing, smiling, and having a good time,” said Katie.
The competition was no match for winners Allison Layne for the junior division followed by Katie Northcutt of the senior division, who also received 2nd place in showmanship with her sheep and 1st on market.
“This showcase was a wonderful experience for me. Despite winning other awards this week, this definitely is the icing on the cake,” said Katie.