Moser takes professional shearing honors at Black Hills Stock Show |

Moser takes professional shearing honors at Black Hills Stock Show

Barb Coyle of Rapid City, S.D., knits a wool cap during the All-American Sheep Day at the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City.
Photo by Teresa Clark |

When the fleece was all settled, Alex Moser of Iowa was declared the winner of the 2018 National Sheep Shearing Contest at the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, S.D. In the professional division, Davin Perrin was second; and Clint Hahn, third.

Moser is no newcomer to sheep shearing. He has been shearing since the age of 13, and in addition to making a living as a professional shearer, is currently helping instruct a nationally recognized sheep shearing school at North Dakota State University.

“The professionals who earn a living shearing make it look easy because they’ve done it a lot,” said Dave Ollila, South Dakota State University Extension sheep field specialist. “They are like fine-tuned athletes.” Shearers competing in the contest were scored on speed, and the quality of their shearing. The goal is to end up with a ewe that has a clean, even cut.

Intermediate winners in the event were Ben Fitzpatrick, first; Levi McTaggart, second; and Joe Schwartz, third. Beginner winners were Tyler Opstedahl, first; Braden Kopren, second; and Rowdy Thompson, third.

Wool handlers were also judged and awarded prizes based on how well they sorted wool by size, texture and quality. In this competition, Leann Brimmer was first, followed by Amelia Seifert, second; and Terrance Pelle, third. “My job is to work with the shearer to make his job easier,” Brimmer said. “At the same time, I am trying to get the producer a better price for his product. By sorting off the inferior parts of the fleece, that fleece wool can go into a higher price valued line.”

The sheep shearing contest was first added to the lineup at the Black Hills Stock Show in 2009 as a way to help educate the public about the sheep and wool industries, while providing some entertainment. This year, the BHSS hosted the All-American Sheep Day at the James Kjerstad Events Center. “The goal of Sheep Day is to provide a total sheep industry experience for all attendees, whether or not they are sheep producers,” Ollila said. “Northern prairie states South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska make up 20 percent of all the sheep raised in the U.S. There is a long tradition of sheep production among ranchers in this region, and a lot of the sheep industry’s infrastructure can be found in these states,” he said.


The North American Sheep Dog Trials were held throughout the day. Kelly Jackson of the South Dakota Stock Dog Association trained one special dog to auction off prior to the final competition of the North American Sheep Dog Trials. Jackson, who has trained stock dogs for more than 25 years, trained Sis, who is a well-trained Border Collie stock dog.

The sale of Sis generated $2,100 for the Make A Wish foundation. “One hundred percent of what we do goes to Make A Wish, and there’s no charge,” Jackson said. “The dogs are fully donated. Every penny people spend goes to Make A Wish.”

This is the sixth dog the South Dakota Stock Dog Association has trained and auctioned for the foundation, who has been able to grant more wishes thanks to the donations.


Participants also learned all about wool during several presentations held throughout the day on optical fiber diameter analysis technology and its application in the wool industry, classing wool and wool value as a textile fiber.

A circle of wool spinners consisting of Nancy Barone, Claudia Randall, and Joy Kammerer from the Black Hills Spinner’s Circle, demonstrated how to spin wool. Randall said the event was a good way to educate people about how clothing and other items can be made from wool. Barb Coyle of Rapid City, S.D., worked on knitting a wool cap, while Emma Spring received some assistance from the group, as she learned how to weave wool. Hand spinning lessons and wool combing demonstrations also were offered. Shawls made during the day were donated to the Black Hills Hospice.

Heidi Carroll with the South Dakota State University Extension gave presentations on sheep safety and quality assurance information, as well as lambing protocol discussions and lambing equipment.


Producers also had the opportunity to visit the trade show area where retailers promoted and sold wool and lamb products, and other vendors set up educational displays. Participants also had an opportunity to sample three different entrees of lamb that were available in the concessionaire’s area.

Other events were a sheep tee peeing contest and youth mutton bustin’. The sheep tee peeing competition, which is in its second year, features a team of two who wrestle and secure a ewe, and place a homemade canvas teepee over it. Then they hope she stays put until they can cross a finish line. “It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate the tradition of sheep herding and the use of teepees in South Dakota,” Ollila said of the contest.

The youth mutton bustin’ features 20 young cowboys and cowgirls from 3 to 6 years old, who will ride a sheep for 6 seconds, as judges score the ride.

“South Dakota has a thriving sheep industry that many people aren’t familiar with,” said Ron Jeffries, Black Hills Stock Show general manager. “The All-American Sheep Day is an opportunity for us to educate the general public about the impact of our great sheep producers,” he said. ❖

— Clark is a freelance livestock journalist from western Nebraska. She can be reached by email at


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