Don’t let the big bow on top of Sloane Hinnant’s head fool you. Hinnant, a 4-year-old competitor in the Junior Market Lamb Showmanship Champion contest, doesn’t let the grit of the barn get in the way of taking home a blue ribbon from the N.C. State Fair.
The Hinnants left their farm in Kenly for their annual two-day trip to the State Fair. Sloane and her siblings Kate, 6, and Ross, 8, are no strangers to the livestock showing community. The family set up camp outside the exposition center beneath a white tent with their lambs and everything needed to get ready for the competitions.
Sloane spent the day bathing, drying and prepping her lamb, a male that she affectionately named “Isabelle.” Her father, Clay Hinnant, helped with tougher tasks. He guided Sloane’s small hands on hair clippers and helped her dry the top of the lamb.
Sloane had a moment of hesitation, doubting her desire to compete in the showmanship competition. Minutes later she was determined to take over the lamb-grooming task her father had begun.
Sloane’s mother, Jessie Hinnant, pulled Sloane’s hair back into a large yellow bow after dressing her in a ruffled plaid shirt, leather boots and denim pants adorned with a large belt buckle. Sloane was reminded to stay out of the dirt and the pile of wrestling kids on the hill while she waited for her show time. Her father led Isabelle around the grounds in an attempt to tire him out before the competition.
Sloane led Isabelle to the show ring just as the sun began to set behind the fair rides. Excited parents stood against metal fences inside the exposition center as young competitors waited anxiously to be called into the ring. With confidence, Sloane and Isabelle made their way into the ring and across the sawdust.
The competition felt short, following a long day of fussing over Isabelle’s appearance and demeanor. Sloane was thanked for her participation and led out of the ring with the group of children that didn’t make it to the final round. Blue participation ribbon in hand, Sloane passed the lamb off to her dad and was greeted by high fives and a “Good job, kid.”
As they made their way back to the tent to pack up for the day, Sloane asked her mother, “Can we go swim in the hotel pool now?”
Wednesday at the fair
Hours: Gates, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Midway, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Exhibits, 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Tickets: Adults (13-64), $10; children (6-12), $4; military with ID, $6; children 5 and younger and adults 65 and older, free. You can skip the lines at the fair by buying admission tickets online, ncstatefair.org, for $9 for adults and $4 for children, plus a convenience fee.
Dorton Arena concert: Band of Oz and The Embers, 7:30 p.m., free.
Forecast: Sunny, low 70s.
Wednesday’s attendance last year: 63,616