Only a head taller than her Romney sheep Sprinkles, 9-year-old Tess de Guzman swept the wool sheep competition at The Great Frederick Fair.
“I was just really, really surprised and happy,” said Tess, who is in fourth grade and in her first year of 4-H with the Calico Clover 4-H Club.
Tess fell in love with a “really sweet sheep” at the fair last year and spent a while petting it, she said. Tess asked her mother if they could get a sheep for her to take care of, but instead her mother signed her up for 4-H, she said.
She was a little upset when she found out what her mom had done, Tess said with a laugh.
Now she finds 4-H fun — nerve-wracking, but fun — when it comes to showtime, Tess said. She boosted her confidence by practicing with both of her Romney sheep, Sprinkles and Missy, during the spring and summer on most Sundays and some Thursdays, Tess said.
“Practicing with them over and over again,” Tess said. “It can be frustrating, but it pays off in the end.”
In the show ring, she focuses on keeping Sprinkles’ head up and feet square, Tess said.
Tess won Champion First Year Showman with Sprinkles and then took the entire wool class as Supreme Champion for open class ewe wool breeds.
“It was really surprising, because [the judge] kept talking about how elegant this other sheep was,” Tess said. Then the judge moved his hand and said that he had to give the first-place award to Sprinkles.
Sprinkles was born March 15, which Tess is quick to mention is the Ides of March that she read about in one of her sister’s books. Tess started practicing with sheep shortly after Sprinkles was born.
Tess leases her show sheep from Pete and Shelly Roe at Catoctin View Farm. The Roes’ two daughters, who showed sheep when they were involved in 4-H, are now in college. The family was enthralled by the new 4-H member’s win.
Rileigh Tissue and Abby Sharp also leased the Roes’ sheep. Rileigh won a Grand Champion title with the Roes’ ram Leo, and Abby won Reserve Champion with one of the three Suffolk sheep the girls show.
After Tess’ last Supreme Champion win, the girls’ small bodies moved deftly around the barn putting troughs, feed and hay in the three pens. It was a normal day at the fair, except now Tess’ red banner hung from the rafters above.
“She worked really, really hard,” Shelly Roe said. “All the girls have.”