A new groove: Llamas, dressed-up pets delight crowds Friday as county fair winds down (with video) | SteamboatToday.com

A new groove: Llamas, dressed-up pets delight crowds Friday as county fair winds down (with video)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Hailee Smith said the secret to successful llama showmanship is to make a llama sandwich.

By that, she means keeping the llama between her and the judge at all times. Another key is consistent eye contact and, of course, a good-looking, well-behaved llama.

With her accumulated knowledge of showing llamas for five years, Smith, 17, won first in the trail competition, showmanship in the senior category, and overall llama. 

Her 12-year-old companion, Bo, was brushed out and fluffy, showing off his white and brown coat. He also boasted an impressive underbite.

“When I was little — my aunt is Ann Copeland — we always went and packed llamas out in the high country,” Smith said. “So, when she passed away, I kept in it a little bit. When I got older, I was like, ‘Oh, there’s llama 4-H.’ I just started doing llamas in 4-H. There hasn’t always been competition, but this year there is, and I’m excited about that.”

She had two competitors in 12-year-old Nadia Boatwright and 10-year-old Luke Boatwright.

The pair competed in the llama show for the first time after their family purchased llamas to protect their goats.

Since all three competitors were in different age groups, they each took home first place in the showmanship portion of the show.

Luke Boatwright said the showmanship portion of the show was the most difficult, since his llama, Lefty, kept wanting to wander. 

Nadia Boatwright said the trail portion was tougher, since her llama, Poncho, was bewildered and looking for Lefty.

“He was like, ‘I need my brother,’ and kept looking back,” she said.

Immediately following the llama show, a crowd gathered as a crowd-favorite event drew nearer.

Ten contestants participated in the Dress Your Animal contest, seven “minis” and three juniors. 

Alley Kvols walked away with a blue ribbon in the latter category. The 13-year-old has been competing in the competition for nine years.

This year, Kvols and her 11-month-old goat, Oreo, donned matching luau-themed outfits and danced to “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire, a routine they’ve planned for months.

“She did really well,” Kvols said of her goat. “She just got a little stubborn before she got in the ring.”

Uriah Mendisco finished second among the minis with her chicken, Poppy. The two of them wore matching cowgirl outfits.

“We’re wearing the same thing,” Mendisco said. “We’re wearing a cowgirl hat.”

With the hat, Poppy often tipped over from being top heavy. Mendisco had to carry Poppy around the ring, sporting a huge smile.

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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