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Black Hills Stock Show set to hold inaugural Sheep Day during 2014 event

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Rapid City, S.D. – Sheep producers can enjoy a full day of activities and events during Sheep Day at the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS). This first annual event will be held on Feb. 6 in the James Kjerstad Events Center at the Central States Fairgrounds in Rapid City, S.D.

During the daylong event, the National Sheep Shearing Contest, North American Sheep Dog Trials, the National Wool Handling Championships and youth mutton bustin’ will be held. 

Shearing championships

The National Sheep Shearing Championships will begin at 9 a.m. on Feb. 6. Contestants in the professional division will be competing for more than just prize money and awards. The top finishers will also earn an opportunity to compete in the World Sheep Shearing Championships. 

The shearing contest will consist of contestants competing in the beginning, intermediate or professional divisions, depending upon their level of experience. The contestants will meet prior to the start of the contest to determine which category they should compete in. 

During the event, each contestant will use electronic shearing equipment to shear eight head in the preliminary round. Judges will watch the shearers and score them not only for speed but also for condition of the fleece, the number of nicks, second cuts in the wool, appearance of the sheep and handling. 

In the back, the judge turns the sheep over and counts every nick.

The top finishers will move up to compete in the championship round. 

Winners of the event will receive prize money and other awards. The top two finishers in the professional division will earn the honor of representing the United States in the World Sheep Shearing Championships.

Wool Handling 

Also starting at 9 a.m. will be the National Wool Handling Contest. According to Leann Brimmer, who is helping organize this year’s Sheep Day events, wool handlers work with the shearer to prepare the fleece by separating off undesirable pieces of wool that deduct value from the main fleece. 

During the event, wool handlers will prepare three fleeces in the preliminary rounds and five fleeces during the final round. They will be judged on the time it takes them to prepare the fleece and cleanup at the end, in addition to the quality of the job they have done preparing the fleece. 

Prize money and awards will be given to the top competitors, Brimmer said.  

Entries are still being accepted for the sheep shearing and wool handling contests. 

Brimmer can be reached at 406-853-4867 for more information or to enter the sheep shearing or wool handling events. 

Dog trials

It takes patience, knowledge, skill and a smart dog to successfully move a group of sheep through a predetermined course. Some of the best sheep dog trainers in the region will compete with their dogs during the North American Sheep Dog Trials. 

The preliminary round of the sheep dog trials will begin at 1 p.m. in the arena. The championship round will be held at 7:30 p.m., with mutton bustin’ kicking off the event.

At least 55 dogs are expected to compete in this year’s trial for $5,000 in prize money and awards, which will be split among the winners. The dogs compete in a pre-determined course in the preliminary round, and 16 dogs will be picked based on their time to compete in the semi-finals. The 10 dogs with the fastest time will move into the final round of competition. 

The sheep dog trial is a timed event where the handler and his dog direct a group of sheep through a patterned course. The handler can only use whistle or voice commands to control the dog. The idea of the trial is to move the sheep through the course, concluding when the sheep pass through a gate and are herded into a pen. The team that completes the event in the shortest amount of time is the winner. 

“It is truly a fascinating event to watch,” said BHSS General Manager Ron Jeffries. “It is amazing how well these dogs understand what their handlers are telling them to do through whistle and voice commands.”

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

Inaugural year

During the daylong event, the National Sheep Shearing contest, North American Sheep Dog Trials, the National Wool Handling Championships and youth mutton bustin’ will be held. Tickets for the event will cover all the day’s activities. 

Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children between seven and 12, and free for children six and under.

There will also be various vendor displays from sheep production and equipment to lamb recipes and food. The South Dakota Sheep Growers Association and South Dakota State University (SDSU) will be on hand with information and to answer questions. 

According to Black Hills Stock Show General Manager Ron Jeffries, wool spinners will also be giving demonstrations on spinning wool. 

Jeffries indicated any sheep-related individuals, groups, businesses and associations are welcome to set up a table at no cost to display their products and promotions of the sheep industry during Sheep Day. 

Dave Ollila, SDSU sheep field specialist, can be reached at 605-394-1722 for more information or to sign up to participate in the demonstrations or as a vendor.


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