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Archive for Sunday, August 4, 2002

whims

August 4, 2002

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Llamas must be born with a tolerance gene.

At the Douglas County Free Fair on Saturday, 4-H'ers had the fluffy South American natives jumping through hoops, posing for photographs and dressing in skirts.

But, judging from the animals' mostly cooperative attitudes, they didn't mind much.

In fact, their perpetually upturned mouths seemed to grin through the entire show.

"They're really lovable and sociable," said 19-year-old Joanna Hetrick of the Stull Busy Beavers 4-H Club as she stroked the neck of her 1-year-old llama, Delilah.

Contestants competed with their llamas for awards in showmanship, obstacle, pack, public relations and costume.

Llamas' friendly demeanor makes them good candidates for public appearances, the announcer told onlookers. During the public relations contest, the llamas had to wear a sun visor, pose for a snapshot, be petted by four strangers and bare their teeth for the judges.

The most difficult challenges came in the obstacle course and pack competitions, when handlers had to lead their llamas over bridges, across a teeter-totter and through a kiddie pool.

"During practice he laid down in the pool," 16-year-old Kasandra Williams said of her llama, Shadey. "I'm hoping he doesn't do that again."

For the show's finale, the llamas and their handlers left the arena and reappeared bearing new personas. Evan Foos, 10, became a sheik, wearing a jeweled headband and vest. His llama, Shalom, trailed alongside him in a coordinating garment.

Foos explained matter-of-factly Shalom's exotic appearance: "She's a belly dancer."

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