MITCHELL — Once the swine showmanship competition concluded, junior, intermediate and senior showmen began grooming their sheep for the sheep showmanship competition, which will be held Wednesday.

The sheep are groomed for the ring and Mason Schmer got help from his mother, Kate Schmer, and Tate Talkington in preparing his Dorset sheep, Ace.

“We trim them a little on their legs, so they’re not poofy,” he said. “Then we have to practice showing with them to get them used to it.”

As he got his sheep onto the grooming stand, said the most challenging part is getting the animal set.

“Bracing them is hard,” he said. “You have to put a lot of pressure on you and you have to get their legs completely squared, their neck has to be straight and their nose has to be up.”

He has been showing sheep for five years and one year he showed goats.

Hayden Schmer, 11, also watched Talkington groom his sheep ahead of Wednesday’s show.

“I want to learn how to do a better job grooming,” Hayden said. “Market is my weak spot. I feel like it’s good for me to know how to do it.”

Kate said she enjoys helping her children get ready for the showmanship because it teaches them valuable life lessons.

“I just like teaching the kids,” Kate said. “That’s really what it’s about because we need our kids to learn lessons about not only how to work with animals, but also important life lessons like sticking things through and taking care of the animal.”

Although the focus is on showing the animal and the showman the best, Kate said the best part about fair is having other fair families help each other.

“When other families help other families, that’s really what 4-H is about, so we’ve got older kids teaching younger kids,” she said. “It’s a competition, we all understand that, but when people work together to teach kids things, it helps kids in a broader sense understand citizenship and helping others.”

While Mason is handling the sheep in the arena, it is important to stay in line.

“You have to stay in line. That’s what many people get kicked out for doing,” he said.

Although it may seem the sheep showman wants to stay in line with the person in front of him, Mason said he stays in line with the first person.

“When you go to set up, everyone has to be in a straight line,” he said. “If you’re third and the person in front of you is off line, don’t go with him. Go with the first person.”

Mason said he planned to practice showing Ace Tuesday evening.

Wednesday events at the fair features the Heartland Pulling Truck and Tractor Pull at 6 p.m. Animal events include the sheep show, rabbit hopping and chicken costume contest in the Livestock Pavilion and the poultry show in Sandford Hall.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at

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