Llama show at Westmoreland Fair offers chance for public relations

Mary Pickels
| Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, 10:36 p.m.

After showing llamas for six years, Dylan Sullenberger, 17, had the pleasure of walking away with two grand championships on Sunday.

His llama Fillipe, 7, took the top spot in showmanship and trail classes in judging at the Westmoreland Fair.

Sullenberger, a junior at Greensburg Salem High School and president of the Llamas R Us 4-H Club, boards his llama in Ligonier.

The animals can be misunderstood, he said.

“They are very gentle animals. They will only spit if in danger or fighting with other animals,” he said.

“They are also guardian animals,” Sullenberger said.

Llamas will emit a strange crying sound to scare predators away from sheep and other farm animals, he said.

An early morning sprinkle of raindrops failed to dampen the spirits of exhibitors and visitors at the 59th annual fair.

Graydon Long, the only original fair board director, held court on Sunday afternoon from the shade of a bench at the fair office.

The crowd was a bit more mellow, he said, compared with Saturday night, when the fair hosted its first monster truck races.

“It was a success. The bleachers were full, and the grass on both sides was full. There were more people in there (arena) than I've ever seen,” said Long, 84, of New Stanton.

The cages housing rabbits were popular with visitors on Sunday, as was the station boasting newly hatched chicks.

Among the unsung fair heroes are those who keep the “comfort stations” tidy for visitors.

Debbie Bloom and Donna Griffiths rode a golf cart laden with cleaning supplies around the grounds Sunday, keeping the rest rooms fresh.

Preparing for opening day, after the restrooms have not been used for a while, is the most challenging, Bloom said.

“The bathrooms are horrifying,” she joked.

The sisters, who were working for True Value Cleaning of Greensburg, battled cobwebs and scrubbed walls, doors and garbage cans to prepare for the fair's opening.

And their work is appreciated, Bloom said.

“The farmers say, ‘Are you the same people from last year?' ” she said.

Through Saturday, the fairgrounds in Mt. Pleasant Township will feature indoor exhibits, livestock, amusements, games and food.

The fair also serves to educate the public on the sources of the food they consume and agriculture's importance to the regional economy.

Throughout the exhibit halls, competitors in baking, photography and artwork, needlepoint and floral and other categories have entered their best work, hoping the judges will award them a blue ribbon.

Patrons can visit the petting zoo, take a camel ride and enjoy performances by magician and balloon animal creator Dennie Huber, Wambold's circus, hand spinning and shearing demonstrations, bee exhibits and the 4-H butterfly house.

Other activities throughout the week include Bullride Mania on Monday, tractor pulls on Tuesday and band performances.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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