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Llamas in costume compete for prize money at Norfolk County Fair

Clothes make the llama, as they say, and a number of nattily dressed llamas took part in a colourful costume competition this weekend at the Norfolk County Fair.

In time for Halloween, the event featured the affable creatures in all manner of garb

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      Clothes make the llama, as they say, and a number of nattily dressed llamas took part in a colourful costume competition this weekend at the Norfolk County Fair.

      A grand total of 19 llamas and their handlers competed in this year's event, known as the "Llama Costume Class," at the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show in Simcoe, Ont., southwest of Toronto. It was held on Saturday.

      One was dressed as a Reese Peanut Butter Cup.

      Another came as a parrot, while a third appeared as a unicorn. There were llamas in all manner of garb, wearing hats and hoods, stripes and prints, fake fur, and plaid. Handlers dressed up as well.

      One llama appeared to be the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Another came as a beach blanket.

      The affable creatures were good sports about the event, showing no drama as they were led around the ring. A panel of judges chose the winners, with the top prize being $50 and the last prize being $5.

      George Araujo, the fair's general manager, said the competition gives participants, often young people, a chance to learn about showmanship and how to handle llamas in the ring when the wool-producing animals are on display. 

      The event is a popular one at the fair, coming as it does before Halloween, he added.

      'Some people find it amusing'

      "The competitors will use costumes to dress up the llamas. Some people find it amusing," he told CBC Toronto in an exclusive interview.

      "It's been a tradition and we've done it for years. I don't know what started it, but participants seem to enjoy it and so do patrons."

      The llamas come from farms in the surrounding area.

      As for animal rights activists who might object to the event, Araujo said: "Basically, I've never seen a llama hurt doing this particular event."

      The seven-day fair, which prides itself as being the oldest in Ontario, ends on Monday. It can draw up to 120,000 visitors, he said.

      With files from Muriel Draaisma