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Llamas are a relative newcomer to the fair's livestock competition. Fair officials say this is only the fifth year llamas have been shown, but it's already a popular category, with 121 llamas competing this year.
There are only two categories for llamas: one is halter, which evaluates body structure and movement. The other is performance, where llamas exhibit trust in their handlers through obstacle courses and other challenges.
Barbara Hedrick, of Galena, is showing five llamas at the fair this year. Hedrick says llamas are easier to handle than cattle or horses.
It's not unusual for llamas to be elevated to pet status. Jane Livingston, superintendent of the fair's llama barn, says the animals are docile enough to make visits to schools and nursing homes. Livingston, who has 70 llamas at home in Marshfield, finds it therapeutic to spend time with them.
The atmosphere is very relaxed inside the llama barn' and quiet, too, except for dozens of whirring fans. Llamas don't usually make noise unless they are distressed.
Only one llama in the barn would hum: ten-month-old Mystery, who belongs to Steve Smith, from Catawissa, Missouri.
Aside from one homesick young llama, everyone in the barn seems pretty content. Barbara Hedrick says her llamas actually enjoy being at the fair. From the llama barn at The Ozark Empire Fair, I'm Jenny Fillmer for KSMU.