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Sheep shearing history, practices on display at Meade County Fair


F.Ganje - July 25, 2019

STURGIS, SD – A mix of knowledge, athleticism, and art might best describe what’s involved in sheep shearing.  That will be on full display at the Meade County Fair this weekend when long-time shearer Loren Opstedahl will hold a demonstration for fair goers.  

“I’ve been shearing for 30 years,” shares Opstedahl of Union Center, SD.  Along with competitive shearing where he has won national competitions five times, he has also represented the United States in the world championships six times. Opstedahl Sheep Shearing currently shears up to 60,000 sheep annually in a five state area.

During the Meade County Fair, Saturday, July 27 at 12:30pm, Opstedahl will demonstrate both hand and electric shearing techniques. “We’ll have four sheep where I’ll do two with a hand blade and two with electric shears.” He adds, “It will be fun for people to see the old-style method along with the modern form of shearing.”

The demonstration will include questions and answers about the process of shearing, along with explanations as to the use of the wool. “I tell people the first important use is to keep sheep warm,” laughs Opstedahl.  “After that, sharing history and information about the wool industry always keeps the questions coming.  People are interested.”

Opstedahl and a crew shear up to 60,000 sheep annually, between January and May.  “Each shearer sets their own pace of the number they can physically do within an hour and be able to sustain that throughout the day.” For our purposes at the demonstration during the fair, we’ll take a lot more time in order to present a more complete and informative experience.”

The shearing demonstration will be held under the tent on the fairgrounds and is free to the public.

The Meade County Fair runs July 26-27 with activities at both the fairgrounds and the adjacent Sturgis Brown High School campus.

See more on line at Meade County Fair & 4-H Achievement Days and on Facebook.

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