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Lamb lead show honors Nancy Porteus

| October 2, 2019

Several members of the Porteus and Heller families continued a long standing family tradition by participating in the lamb lead show at the Coshocton County Fair on Tuesday evening, Oct. 1. A special tribute was read in memory of Nancy Porteus, who passed away this fall. Porteus made many of the outfits that have adorned the family at the lamb lead class. Pictured from left are: Joy Heller, Mary Lou Heller, Angie Porteus Pyle and Hannah Casey. Mark Fortune | Beacon

COSHOCTON – For more than 30 years, the lamb lead show was a favorite of Nancy Porteus. She was a gifted seamstress and loved to create outfits from wool for the show. Sadly, Porteus passed away recently. The show on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at the Coshocton County Fair was a tribute to her memory.

“The contest was very near and dear to my mom’s heart,” said Angie Porteus Pyle. “She learned to sew on feed sacks and was taught by both of her grandmothers.  She came a long way from feed sacks to winning many local, state and even a national award for sewing.”

Pyle said her mom would make their outfits and it became a family tradition to enter the lamb lead show. The Porteus family built their own flock of sheep and sold many lambs to youth around the county for their 4-H projects. “It was a highlight of the fair for my mom – to see the kids walk around in clothes she made for them.”

Pyle said the show was a labor of love for their family. “Mom loved the smiles of the children showing their animals.” Seven members of the Porteus family participated in the lamb lead show on Tuesday evening.

Mary Lou Heller, Porteus’ sister, has been part of the lamb lead show for about 30 years. “Nancy and her husband started with sheep and my kids showed sheep for many years. Nancy always made everything, except for kilts that she bought in Ireland.” Pyle said her mom purchased a kilt for every family member during trips to Ireland. Lily Edwards, Heller’s granddaughter, was wearing an outfit that Joy Heller had worn as a child.

“My sister just loved the fair – loved being a part of it. We enjoy doing it together because we are a close family and love having fun together. It’s a family tradition to do the lamb lead show,” said Mary Lou.

Several of the young children who participated in the show didn’t know it was a special night – they were just excited to be part of the show. Ellie Endsley, 6, was very excited and borrowed a sheep so she could be part of it. “It sounded like fun,” Endsley said. Kaya Bower, 6, was also excited, but she was nervous, too. “It sounded like fun. My grandma made my skirt 50 years ago.”

Aliya Snyder, 6, said a good friend of her family made her dress. “Sometimes, my sheep moves when I don’t expect it. I won seven ribbons at the fair.” She also said that doing her curtsy on the stage would be the most fun. Ruby Mullett, 6, said she wanted to be in the lead class because she wanted to walk a sheep. She was wearing a hat that her aunts wore when they were part of the lamb lead show.

As part of the evening, a tribute about Porteus’ life was read. “Mom just loved this show. And she was famous for making the best lamb meatballs around. When I was Lamb and Wool Queen in 1989, we had to travel all over. There would always be a place for me to talk about Coshocton County and my mom would always make lamb meatballs. People loved them and looked forward to getting them. We were so blessed to have her.”

“She isn’t in the ring tonight, but I’m sure she’s looking down at us and smiling,” said Pyle.


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