At county fairs, show animals are judged by their physical features. However, non-physical features do not go unnoticed. This year, two rescued lambs are being shown at the Delaware County Fair by their caretakers, Maxwell and Benjamin Hughes, members of Porkies Plus 4-H Club.
Sheep Barn Superintendents Pam and Greg Graupman recognized the unique situation.
“We’ve been working in the sheep barn at the fair for over 20 years,” said Greg Graupman. “This is our first experience with kids showing rescue lambs.”
Before the sheep judging began, a time for recognition was made. Greg Graupman voiced over the microphone: “We all know the lambs with the best physique will win Grand Champion trophies, therefore Maxwell and Benjamin’s lambs will probably not win a trophy. However, these young men are grand champions who put compassion before competition.”
A sizeable crowd applauded as the Hughes boys led their lambs into the show ring.
Maxwell, 14, and Benjamin, 8, live with their parents in East Meredith on Diamond H Farm. The family raises beef, but last winter, Maxwell and Benjamin decided they wanted to show sheep at the fair.
“It’s the first time anyone in the family has shown sheep,” said their mother, Jamie. “So, I looked on Craigslist and found a farm selling baby lambs. We drove to the sheep farm but were taken aback.”
There were almost 50 lambs from which to choose. But, instead of choosing prime lambs, the boys were drawn to two neglected lambs. One had frostbite on an ear, and the other had a burned side because it got too close to a heat lamp.
“It was horrible,” said Jamie. “I reminded the boys that the imperfections would work against them when showing at the fair. They understood the facts and bought the lambs, anyway. They paid with their own money.”