LIMA — One of these years, Claire Snyder, 8, will out compete her older sister.
But not this year.
At the Allen County Fair Wednesday a few doors down from the Jr. Fair Dairy Feeders Show main event, the-eight-year-old had been walking her llama Hardrock’s On Track to try to out-costume her sister, the 12-year-old Audra Snyder.
Claire was dressed as a “crazy cat lady” and her llama’s fur had been covered with a cat costume.
Her sister Audra went with a Harry Potter theme, dressing up as a Hogwarts student and outfitting her llama Hardrock’s Statesman in a knitted scarf, wizard robe and a pair of round glasses reminiscent of Potter himself.
The effort helped her win first place, leaving Claire to end up with second. Again.
“She wins every single time,” Claire said, her fists balled up in frustration. “That’s why I thought we could win.”
Llamas and alpaca exhibits are a relatively new addition to the Allen County Fair after being added just three years ago, and fair organizers have been increasing the number of events as more and more local residents show interest in the animal.
Fair Superintendent Penny Kill said this year was the first year that they added a obstacle course, and last year saw the addition of the costume contest.
“I through they did really well,” Kill said after watching the animals perform a few tricks. “I was impressed.”
Mandy Snyder, the mother of Claire and Audra, said her family has been raising llamas since 1994 at the Hard Rock Llama Co. farm near Bluffton, and she knows quite a few in the area who breed the animals, either for a hobby or for their fibers.
She’s not so sure about size of the alpaca community, however. Apparently, the two communities don’t interact too much.
“There’s llama people, and there’s alpaca people,” she said.
Either way, the two kinds of animals often draw questions from passersby, and Snyder and her daughters have had plenty of practice explaining some of the ins-and-outs of the animal.
Claire’s llama, for example, spent some of the show complaining, and she explained that he most likely would rather have been taken out of the pen away from some of his fellow llamas.
“I think it’s because he’s a bit lonely. They’re pack animals,” she said.
If the pandemic slows down for the Allen County Fair in 2021, he might have a few more llama friends next year.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.