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Love of animals leads to top awards at fair
Ryleigh Randall loves animals, and her fondness showed at the Kitsap County Fair.
Randall, 12, of Port Orchard won nine awards at the fair this year, including a Champion Market Animal prize and a Reserve Champion award for her 5-month-old Suffolk sheep given the auspicious moniker of Macaroni and Cheese.
A 4-H Club member for four years, Randall won the awards Aug. 25 in the registered sheep competition. The 4-H club is a youth development organization designed to build leadership and other life skills through activities such as raising animals and participating in competitions with the animals.
Randall said she enjoyed raising the sheep and said that competing and winning will help with her college education.
“I like doing this because it helps gain money for my college fund, and I love animals,” she said.
Joyce Harrell, the superintendent for the competition, said Suffolk sheep are judged primarily on their meat.
“The sheep compete against each other to exemplify the best quality of that breed,” she said. “Meat sheep are judged primarily on their carcass.”
During competition, a judge rates the animals by weight and finish. If an animal is considered skinny, it is under finished; if the animal is too heavy, it is considered over finished. Exhibitors may enter up to two animals in any competition. After the competition, an auction is held to sell the animals.
Randall said the main thing in winning the competition was choosing good sheep and then taking good care of them on a daily basis.
“I chose them because they were the ones with the longest loins, which is the main part people eat,” she said. “You also have to get up every morning and feed them and take care of them every day.”
Randall’s mom, Shannon, said owning the sheep was a good experience for her daughter.
“It has taught her a lot of responsibility, “she said. “But the best part is being able to go to the fair and show them.”
Harrell also said the competition was good for young people in many ways.
“They have to write up their project in their record book, and they have to present themselves to the public, so it teaches them public speaking,” she said. “They also have to care for the sheep, so it teaches them responsibility in caring for the animals.”