Challenge: the shear force that drives competitors to represent themselves in such a way that will create lasting memories, honors and friendships. The Missouri State Fair offers many great opportunities for competitors of all ages to showcase their talents, including showing sheep.
Andrew Freemyer, 16, of Ravenwood and a member of the North East Nodaway FFA chapter, showed Saturday in the Breeding Stock competition with his White Dorpers, a mutation from the original Dorper, having a black head and face. Before entering his competition, Freemyer first picks the sheep he thinks looks the best. Once he has found the sheep he likes, he washes them, shears them, and then makes another evaluation of the sheep to see if he still likes the rams and ewes enough to compete with them.
Once chosen, Freemyer must break the sheep to lead so they will be able to be shown in the arena. Once final evaluations are complete, Freemyer then takes his sheep off to competition. When showing, he uses the competition to advertise his rams and ewes so he can sell the breeding stock.
Sheep have always been a part of Freemyer’s life. He has also owned Montadale sheep and shown them since he was 7, and he has shown dairy goats since he was 5. However, taking care of the goats took too much time, and he made the switch to sheep.
After switching to Montadale sheep, Freemyer decided to move to a smaller breed of sheep; the White Dorper. For Freemyer, showing is all about the interaction with the animal, and competitiveness.
“I enjoy them. It’s fun raising them,” he said.
His challenge is to breed an animal that has better conformation than his competitors. Freemyer is currently pursuing his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) State Degree, which was helped Saturday by his Grand Champion, Reserve Champion, and Showmanship awards.
Andrew’s father, Jared Freemyer, and two older sisters, Nicole and Katrina, also showed, so Andrew decided he would start showing when he was little. Not only does he have friends in his chapter back home, Andrew said he has made friends at competitions as well, including his main competitor, Jared Frieze, who also showed at the fair. Andrew plans on attending college to become a veterinarian, specializing in artificial insemination and embryo transplant.
Jared Freemyer got into 4-H as a child and began to show his dairy goats and sheep, a path that his children have followed as they have grown up.
“When you see them have the same successes or even sometimes more successes than you did, you understand a little bit of their excitement and how contagious that is,” Jared Freemyer said. “It keeps them interested in agriculture, at least. If it’s not their primary source of income, it keeps them tied to their roots.”
Chase Plymell is a student at Smith-Cotton High School