Shaun Bendele had an easy time of it showing his brown alpaca, Lady Solstice Rose Wednesday. The animal’s calmness resulted in Shaun earning the Alpaca/Llama Showman of Showmen at the Delaware County Fair.
Shaun, 10, a second-year presenter, attributed his success to the amount of time spent working with Lady.
“We practice obstacles, showing teeth and legs and public relations,” Shaun said.
A fifth-grader at St. Mary School, Shaun was excited with his first place win.
“I’m really happy,” he said. “I’m glad I get to be in the Showman of Showmen class this afternoon.”
Shaun’s older sister, Shaelyn Bendele, took second place.
Shaun said he did more preparing for the Showman of Showmen class by watching animal handling videos on the Internet; he was most concerned about showing a horse, he said.
Shaelyn, 13, said she felt good about taking second place in showmanship with her alpaca, London’s Empress Rose, who is also Lady’s mother. Shaelyn has been showing alpacas for four years.
Shaelyn went on to win second place in the alpaca/llama obstacle course, as well as first place in both the alpaca/llama public relations and costume classes. The object of the obstacle class is for the handler and the animal to be comfortable with obstacles faced on the farm or out in public.
The costume class works similarly. Shaelyn’s wedding theme involved a clumsy ring bearer droping the ring and Rosie, the flower alpaca, saving the day by using her long neck to fetch it.
Judge Beth Myers of Newark, said judging the costume class was difficult as all three themes and outfits were great. Judging for the contest was based on how much the alpaca was covered and how well it tolerated the costume.
Shaelyn’s costume included a necklace, blanket with fringe and beads hanging from a flower crown.
“It’s amazing everything touching and moving, and the animal is tolerating it,” Myers said. “It’s not shaking its head and trying to get it off.”
Although many of the alpacas were being stubborn in the show ring Wednesday morning, that did not deter the handlers.
After a few hiccups in the beginning — and a little prompting and teaching from Myers — the show went well.
“You did a really good job with your animals,” Myers told the 4-H contestants. “Trust and kindness are important for this animal, and no one snapped. Next year and the year after, you’ll move up in your ability and the judges will have a tough time picking a winner.”