First Posted: 10/2/2009
LUMBERTON Oscar is an affectionate guy. When visitors drop by his abode, he nuzzles up to them with hairy split lips.
Its an odd but acceptable greeting, given that Oscar is a 2,800-pound camel. During his 10-day stay at the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair, Oscar has a chance to offer his drool-dripping hellos camels chew their cud to 75,000 people.
Oscar has been to 13 fairs and festivals this year since he came to live with Darrell Stanley, a Ramseur, N.C., resident. He loves to travel, and can watch his trailer from his pen at home.
When that trailer moves, he starts hollerin. If we dont answer him …, Stanley said, rattling the fencing panels as Oscar does to show his interest in loading up for another adventure.
Stanley borrowed Oscar from an acquaintance for a nativity scene at his church in November. Then everyone fell in love with him, so I wrote him a check and he stayed, Stanley said.
Stanley, recently retired from the automobile selling business, turned his familys love for Oscar into an addition to his pony-ride, petting-zoo business. When he travels with Oscar, he sells rides around the ring of portable fencing panels. For the Robeson fair, he brought along 11-month-old Sandy, a Dromedary camel he purchased in January. At home waits Niles, 8, as Stanley thinks he could use a little more work on his friendliness.
With us, the camels have to have a certain personality to come on the road with us, he said.
Stanley spends hours practicing the ride routine with his camels and hand feeds them every day. The camels eat loaves of bread hot dog buns, potato bread, rye llama pellets and fescue hay. Oscar prefers to drink his water straight from the hose.
And theyre foragers, Stanley said. If they get around a tree, theyll strip it 10-foot high.
For about four months, Stanley and his family bottle fed Sandy four 2-litter bottles of Mares Match milk mix four times a day. She is still growing now. Camels grow until the age of 10 years.
Niles is getting more affectionate and shoving his nose into Stanleys work, he said. One afternoon Stanley looked up from his auto repair project on the ground to come eye-to-eye with Niles.
Im 6 4 and I can barely reach his hump and Im down on my knees and hes standing over me, Stanley said.
Stanley does not carry insurance on his camels though they are worth about $50,000 together. Oscar could fetch $25,000 as he is a Bactrian camel and they are not as common domestically. Sandy, as a young female, costs $10,000. Niles is worth $15,000.
And just where does one buy a camel? From a breeding facility or private owner, Stanley said.
11 a.m. to midnight Fair open to public
1 p.m. Livestock buildings open
2 p.m. wine judging
3 p.m. 4-H youth meat goat show
5 p.m. Adult/youth breeding meat goat show
5 p.m. Unity pull for tourism
5 to 11 p.m. tractor pull
5 p.m. Sean Sharp at gate No. 10
6 p.m. Junior Miss and Little Miss Robeson County pageant at gate No. 10
Free admission for military personnel all day and with church bulletin until 3 p.m.
1 to 9 p.m. Fair open to public
1 p.m. Free carnival rides for 1 hour
2 to 8 p.m. Gospel music
2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Dummy & Me Magic Mike shows on the midway stage