Sheep shearing contest to debut at Black Hills Stock Show
The first-ever sheep shearing contest at the Black Hills Stock Show will become the second leg of a three-part series to pick the top shearers in the country, organizers say.
The shearing contest will be held at noon Sunday, Feb. 1, in the Crystalyx BioBarrel Sale Ring in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Rushmore Hall.
Organizers also hope to schedule a shearing demonstration that morning. Both will be free admission.
Curt Olson of Broadus, MT, who is organizing the Rapid City contest, says it will join contests at Miles City, MT and the National Western Stock Show in Denver to select the top shearers to represent the United States in international competition.
Olson, a shearing instructor and former national champion, says the push for the series has come from professional shearers. Currently, the national champions are chosen at Denver. Olson said shearers told him that a better way to select the national winners is to use the total scores from three contests.
“We’ll call it the triple crown of shearing,” Olson said.
He said the second Miles City contest, held last May, drew more shearers and a bigger crowd than the contest in Denver.
Olson expects the Rapid City contest to become the best one of the three. “I’d like to see it grow into a ticketed event,” said Olson, who plans to be the announcer at the Stock Show contest.
For now, though, the contest will be free. “First we’ll crawl, then walk, then we’ll run,” he said.
Olson said he expects the Rapid City contest to draw professional shearers from South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, Nevada and Canada.
He said top South Dakota sheep shearers include Loren Opstedahl of Piedmont, the 2008 national champion, and Wayne Cochran of Bison.
The Rapid City contest will have three classes: junior (for shearers 20 years old and younger), intermediate and professional.
They will be judged on speed, manner of handling, appearance, nicks on the sheep and condition of the fleece.
A $2,000 purse has been contributed by the Black Hills Stock Show, and other prizes and trophies will be awarded, Olson said.