August 03, 2020

Blue Hill Fair beauty contest features herd of well-groomed participants

BLUE HILL — Razors whirred; hair dryers hissed and soap foamed Saturday as cud-chewing contestants at the Blue Hill Fair prepared for the annual beauty contest.

Some were docile as their hair dressers fluffed and puffed them. Others, with a more critical response to the process, bucked at the backbiting beauty buff. With an arm slung over their heads, or a hammerlock on their necks, the recalcitrant patrons were combed, brushed and blown to ready them for the judging.

The beauty contestants at the fair included cows, goats and sheep; and there also were plenty of fans. Tiny Kaitlyn Small of Ellsworth told her dad she wanted to pet the cows, and 5-year-old Matthew Cronan of Veazie took the time to feed hay to other four-legged critters.

Even the most disinterested fair-goer couldn’t resist an urge to reach over the wooden rails and pet the sheep and scratch the goats behind their ears.

Micheala, a Simmentol cow, was anchored in a grooming cage that looked like a bovine version of the village stocks. Her bright brown eyes blinked at passersby while one handler used a stiff-bristled brush to comb her lovely rust colored rump, and another blew sawdust from her hoofs. She uttered an occasional moo, but for the most part she was patient with the process. She seemed to realize that beauty took pains.

Doug Gross of Bucksport, whose son owns Micheala, explained why it was important to have well-groomed contestants. “You try to enhance the things that are good about them, and perhaps hide some of the things that are their weakest points. You use the hair to accomplish all of that,” he said.

Born in March, Micheala was a stunning entry. Gross said Simmentols originated in Switzerland and were brought to this country in the early 1970s. He said they were raised primarily as beef cattle.

When the judging began, the entrants handled it well. Just think how it would feel to stand in a large ring, sawdust under your feet and surrounded by a scrutinizing crowd, while a judge described you as “heavier in the front and lighter in the rear end,” and expressed his fears about how that would affect your productivity.

When Miss America wins her crown, she walks away with prizes and trips around the country. For some of the winning bovine beauties at the fair, the win might lead to a short trip to the butcher shop.

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