MITCHELL — Successful showmanship at the fair can include a little shampoo, a vacuum, a lot of hard work and even a little deception.

For step-brothers Zach Ansley and Riley Stricker, Friday morning was all about getting Stricker’s entry ready for Beef Showmanship at the Scotts Bluff County Fair.

“Right now, Riley is blowing the hair up and training the hair to stand up,” Ansley said. “That allows you to alter somewhat how they look, makes them a little more ‘showy.’”

Ansley said they use a number of products, including Mane & Tail shampoo. One of the tricks is to get a short mohawk effect on the top of the tail.

“When you bring the tailhead to a point, it makes their topside look bigger,” he said. “A lot of it is about making the look deceiving.”

For Austin Driver, working with his goat is a little different. Goats are washed, trimmed and have their horns clipped for showmanship.

Beyond just the grooming, showmanship is how the participant works with their animal.

“You have to make sure they’re calm and hold their stance,” Driver said. “Then, when they need to, they have to walk alongside you.”

Stricker said the hardest part of the process is getting the animal used to it’s halter.

“At first, you put it on them and you pull them behind a tractor,” he said. “When they start figuring it out, then you can really start working and walking with them.”

For most of the contestants, the time with the animals is what makes the best showman.

“I really like working with them and how well you get to bond with them,” Stricker said.

It’s much the same for Driver.

“I just like spending time with my animals, walking around with them and working with them,” he said.

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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