La PORTE — The 4-H livestock competitions are well underway at the La Porte County Fair Grounds. The sheep judging competition was one of Monday’s most anticipated attractions. The Livestock Show Arena was full of contestants awaiting their opportunity to show off their sheep or lamb for judging.
After a display of great showmanship, 14-year-old Blake Kessler, and his Dorset sheep, took home the trophy for Supreme Champion Ewe 2019.
Kessler’s Ewe stood out from the flock in this year’s competition. Tyler Gross, the judge for the Sheep and Lamb Show commented, “she just had a wow factor to her. The animal is really pretty from the side. It’s hard to breed them that way.”
Gross judged the sheep according to overall squareness, how well they walk on their feet and legs, and how hard they are to the touch. Handling and showmanship was also a factor in his decision.
Kessler summarized all the work that went into preparing for the competition.
“There was a lot of walking and practicing, setting up in the show ring," Kessler said. "We try to neutralize them to different stimuli like noises, sights, sounds, colors and people. We try to get them to block everything out, pretty much like an athlete. They're athletes in their own right, just with wool.
Kessler attributed some of his success in this year’s competition to the support of his family members.
“My brothers and parents were a big help. My grandparents have also given me a wealth of knowledge about sheep that I couldn’t find anywhere else,” said Kessler.
Eleven-year-old Jadyn Wallace-Rose also took home a trophy from this year’s competition. Wallace-Rose and her lamb were awarded Reserve Champion Supreme Ewe 2019.
Wallace-Rose expressed her excitement about her victory.
“I feel great! I feel like I have accomplished something that I have been looking forward to doing,” Wallace-Rose said.
She revealed that her uncles, Jay and Jared, had been the biggest help to her in prepared for the competition.
She went into detail about the work she put in.
“I worked with my lambs almost every day. I made sure that their fur was moist and smooth. When we were getting ready for the fair we washed them, dried them out, and then sheared them,” said Wallace-Rose.