Thomas Bidne’s favorite week of the summer is the week of the Jackson County Fair, and his favorite part of the fair is exhibiting sheep.
Bidne and his twin sister, Julia, have been showing sheep for seven years. Though they live in Jackson, they have access to the animals through their great-uncle and keep them at a local barn throughout the summer.
When they start working with their sheep in June, the first step is to get them used to the harness and used to the people walking with them. The sheep like to jump, and walking doesn’t go well at first, Bidne said, but after a few weeks, the walking goes better.
Bidne said he and his sister also give their sheep names, adding they usually choose coordinated names, such as “Penny” and “Nickel.”
A few days before the fair, the sheep get washed, scrubbed, dried and get their wool trimmed. They get put into sheep blankets to keep them clean until show time.
Last year, Bidne showed his sheep by himself for the first time. In the years prior, he had been assisted by good friend Meta Tewes.
Bidne competed in the ewe lamb class at the 2022 Jackson County Fair 4-H sheep show, in which the judges focus on judging the sheep, as well as the showmanship competition, in which the judges focus on the person showing the sheep. He also competed in the 4-H interview competition; he ended up finishing as champion in the intermediate division.
Bidne said he plans to show sheep again this year and is already looking forward to his favorite week — fair week.