Young handlers and their animals separate from the fashion herd in OC Fair costume contest – Los Angeles Times
Take it from Samantha Stewart: Putting wings on a steer is hard.
But her experience in last year’s handler/animal fashion show at the Orange County Fair, when she and her steer won first place as “Toy Story”-inspired Jessie The Yodeling Cowgirl and Buzz Light-steer, enables her to give some advice to other young fair exhibitors who want to branch out into fashion design with their livestock: Make the costume easy to get on and off. And make sure the animal likes it.
Samantha’s know-how paid off at this year’s contest on Friday, where she repeated as a champion. This time her companion was a good-natured Hampshire swine named Hank — this day Hank the Bank, as in piggy bank. With Samantha, 17, he trotted around the show ring with a comically undersize glittery fedora strapped to his head and a half a giant quarter poking from his back.
“Most of the costume was already done,” said Samantha, an incoming senior at La Habra High School.
Pigs, lambs and cattle were equally represented in the show, which was broken into the categories Lads & Lassies (for lambs), Beaus & Belles (for cows) and Pigs & Plaid (for swine). The field included a firefighter with a cow “Dalmatian”; Sully and a porcine Boo from “Monsters, Inc.”; and a fuzzy lamb R2-D2 with a Jawa clad in a felt cape to protect him from the harsh elements of this planet.
R2-D2 leaked a little oil, if you know what we mean, and Boo wasn’t so sure about his googly-eyed headpiece. But for barnyard animals in costume they were generally obedient under the control of their poised handlers.
Judges awarded points for grooming, control and the costumes’ creativity and style. Contestants got a boost for making the garments themselves.
That’s where Anna Grulikowski shone.
Anna, 16, took the Lads & Lassies first-place ribbon to match the handmade, royal-blue wool felt swing coat, embroidered with white flowers, that she wore while leading her lamb, Zip.
Her theme was “Fire & Ice.” Zip, a Suffolk-Southdown cross borrowed from a friend, wore yellow felt phoenix “flames.” Her coat was meant to invoke winter’s chill — never mind the 80 degrees of July.
Anna, an incoming junior at Mission Viejo High School, spun the wool for the embroidery yarn herself, taking it from a sheep on the school farm. The process was a challenge she conquered for about a year as she figured out the best way to prepare the fibers, taken from a market sheep with shorter wool instead of an animal raised specifically for its fiber.
She bought the wool for the body of her coat from a fabric store but dyed it herself in her backyard.
“My parents are very lenient and tolerant of my fiber arts,” she said.
The coat might not see much wear in Southern California, but if she attends Cornell University in upstate New York like she wants to, it might get more use.
Want more hog couture? At 4 p.m. Thursday, the fair will host the Barnyard Fashion Parade.