From prettiest critters to ravenous pie-eaters


Upon hearing the announcer call his name, 6-year-old Tucker Schmidt tugged on his lamb's halter and pulled it toward a show ring yesterday at the Howard County Fair.

The announcer read a description of the entry: "Plain or white? Boxers or briefs? Spandex or cotton? Only tightie whities for Captain Underpants, the superhero of undergarments."

The black lamb emerged wearing a very large pair of Fruit of the Looms and a red felt cape, with the initials C.U. glued onto it. The audience laughed as Tucker, wearing a matching cape and holding a C.U.-emblazoned cardboard shield, circled the ring with the young animal.

"And you thought Michael Jordan looked good in them," the announcer continued in her commentary for the "Pretty Animal Contest" - among the more offbeat competitions during the kickoff weekend of the 60th annual fair, which also featured pie-eating, cow-milking, livestock, beauty and fine arts contests.

Not all of the animals were particularly pretty. Captain Underpants, for instance, won the humor division. Asked what inspired the costume, Tucker's mom, Bobbie Schmidt of Monkton, said, "That's literally the lamb's name. My two sons named him."

Other entries included a dog in traditional Scottish attire, a pony in beachwear, a goat in a bikini, a poodle in a tutu, a dog dressed as Goldilocks, a goat in a Minnie Mouse outfit, a cow costumed as a ladybug, and a calico cat in a daisy-patterned dress and straw hat.

One entry - a steer painted in red, white and blue glitter - was less than cooperative and charged at a group of spectators and animals awaiting their turn. Its owners reined in the angry bovine seconds before it reached the crowd.

Despite the scare, the calico, named Fluffy Elizabeth, toured the ring without so much as jumping or rising from her cart. When a judge asked Debbie Athey of Woodbine how her cat could behave so well, she said, "We covered her eyes so that she couldn't see the other animals or the bull running toward her. That would have done it."

Jackson and Harrison Mayo entered a far calmer produce contest. The young brothers from Windsor Mill checked on their half-dozen brown eggs sitting on a table in one of the exhibit halls and found them decked with a white, third-place ribbon.

Their mother, Kris Mayo, said Jackson, 5, and Harrison, 2, had prepared separate entries for this year's fair.

"Jackson insisted upon carrying his six eggs in the car," she said. "He fell asleep on the way here, I hit a bump and five of them ejected out of the basket. The car still smells like eggs."

Amanda Cornett, 7, of Elkridge persuaded her mother's companion, Doug May, to compete in the pie-eating contest.

Amanda stood across the table from May, pressing his face toward the apple pie every time he moved away to chew and swallow a large bite. She explained that her efforts made him eat faster.

"I'm happy to say that I've never tried this before," said May, of Annapolis. "I told the guy next to me that I got talked into this, and he said that he was just hungry for a piece of pie."

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