It’s not easy to design the perfect costume for a llama. There’s that long neck to consider, those four gangly legs and the risk that the llama won’t appreciate how distinguished he looks in that Abraham Lincoln top hat or how endearing he is under the clown wig and red nose.

But that doesn’t stop 4-H members from trying.

A handful of youngsters will take to the livestock show ring at 4:30 p.m. Thursday alongside their costumed llama companions during the 4-H llama costume parade at the Acton Fair.

The fair, celebrating its 145th anniversary this year, takes over the Acton Fairgrounds Thursday through Sunday.

There will be plenty of fried dough and pizza to please attendees, along with rides for all ages and a midway lined with games, like most summer fairs.

But the llama costume parade isn’t something most fairgoers see every day.

“The kids will dress up the llama and they dress up themselves,” said Lynn Osgood, 4-H aide at York County Cooperative Extension. “In order to put a costume on, they have to work with these animals a lot.”

Osgood explained that in addition to donning costumes, young 4-H members are also asked to write a story that will be read while the kids walk the llamas around the show ring. The story might require, for example, the kid to dress as Little Red Riding Hood and the llama to be garbed as the big bad wolf.

“Besides being fun and a draw for the public, it shows how well the kids have worked with the animals,” Osgood said. “(The llamas) don’t like having things on their head. Getting a llama to tolerate a costume kind of proves to the judges and to the public that the kids have been working with these animals.”

A good deal of time goes into preparing the llamas for their show-ring catwalk. And while the costume portion gives the presenters a chance to get creative with their animals, the efforts also play a role in overall judging.

Members of 4-H also are judged on llama showmanship (3 p.m. Thursday) and the llama obstacle course (6:30 p.m. Thursday).

So they won’t feel left out, the dairy cows will have their own costume contest on Friday, although the event is intended for fun only and not part of the 4-H dairy cow judging.

Other events in the exhibition buildings include the adult farmers’ Olympics (7:30 p.m. Saturday), demonstrations, hay contest (6 p.m. Saturday), antique tractor pull (9:30 a.m. Sunday), farmers’ lawnmower rodeo (11 a.m. Sunday) and pig scramble (noon Sunday).

In the entertainment tent, catch Jim the Balloon Guy showing off his skills with balloon animals, rather than the real ones. Magic Circus also takes the stage several times throughout the fair and local stars are born during the Kowboys Karaoke. Dick Coffin does impressions on Friday and the Locke Family performs magic and escapes on Sunday.

Midway rides open at noon, and $18 wristbands allow wearers to ride as often as their stomachs will handle it until 5 p.m.

There’s plenty of fair fun to be had in Acton, where the cotton candy abounds, the midway is filled with lights and the llamas are dressed to the nines.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

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