Nobles County Fair kicks off with exhibits, food — and 2 alpacas
There’s a far more unusual aspect of the llama-alpaca competition that packs the stands at the Murray County Fair: the costumes.
WORTHINGTON — Excitement and anticipation filled the Nobles County Fairgrounds Wednesday as judges, competitors and workers hurried on their way, bringing animals to pens, ribbons to exhibits and equipment wherever it was needed.
In their pens, the swine snoozed, the goats wanted to chat and the chickens kept quiet, apart from an occasional triumphant crow from a rooster wanting to prove his superiority.
The exhibit halls were relatively quiet too in the afternoon, as the judges had already swept through to adorn the work of both adults and youths with ribbons, whether it was a bench made from a truck’s tailgate, a dreamcatcher-themed lamp or a lovingly-crocheted jellyfish toy.
Those looking to be informed or amused could check out posterboard projects emblazoned with “My Adventures Around the Farm,” “Agronomy Day” or “Cats,” and people with a love of gardening could examine the work of others and try to estimate the height of the winning “tallest cornstalk.”
Though the Midway rides remained still early Wednesday afternoon, Undeniably Dairy and Lakeside Travel Plaza were open and providing treats, snacks and beverages for the judges, competitors, early-bird fairgoers and even a puppy whose owner paused to make sure they were hydrated too.
Throughout the day, the Olson Arena played host to the 4-H Dairy Show, 4-H Poultry Show and 4-H Sheep Show; beef, goats and rabbits are set for Thursday, swine on Friday and pets on Saturday.
Just past the rabbits and the poultry, and not too far from the sheep and goats, though, there are two more unusual creatures sitting in a larger pen and watching the passers-by.
They are Faith White’s alpacas, Opal and Ivory, and they will be competing at the Murray County Fair later this month, as Nobles County doesn’t have a Llama-Alpaca Project show — yet.
Faith, 19, just graduated from Heron Lake-Okabena High School. She’s the daughter of Lorie and Doug White of rural Fulda, and she hopes bringing her alpacas to the Noble County Fair will help generate some interest in the Llama-Alpaca Project.
Faith has had Opal and Ivory for about three years, and they are 9 years old. Alpacas live to be around 15 or 20.
While they’re not quite as friendly as a lapdog, they’re still pretty sociable.
“They won’t spit at you or anything, unless you’re mean to them,” Faith said, though she cautioned that one of them doesn’t like to be touched on the head.
Part of the Llama-Alpaca Project involves helping them get desensitized to touch, she added. They must also go through an obstacle course.
But there’s a far more unusual aspect of the llama-alpaca competition that packs the stands at the Murray County Fair: the costumes.
The first year Faith brought the alpacas to a competition, she didn’t realize that when it said they were to have costumes, it meant they had to be almost completely covered, even their hooves and legs, if possible.
“You shouldn’t be able to see an alpaca in there,” she explained.
A quick Google image search of “costume contest” along with either “llama” or “alpaca” reveals a whole world of wooly creatures dressed up as Disney characters, tacos, dinosaurs, Viking longships, bathtubs and bees.
“I really want to get more people showing so everybody can see it,” said Faith, encouraging others to try out the Llama-Alpaca project for themselves.
Faith has been part of 4-H since fourth grade, and her projects through the Graham Lake Braves have included beef, goats, poultry, rabbits and dogs, which are her real favorites.
“That’s why I joined 4-H, and I just love it,” she said.