Talking macaw wins S&W Feed's pet talent show

Zena Lamp carried her yellow-collar macaw Velvet through the crowd after their "People and Their Amazing Animals" performance Saturday at S&W Feeds.

"What do you want to say to the people?" she cooed to the green bird in a pet carrier. "Do you want to say good morning?"

He nibbled the cage with his beak then cried out, "braabornee."

"He said good morning to me," said a boy in a blue hat seated on a hay bail in the sun.

Despite what Lamp called Velvet's stage fright, the bird won first place in the competition. He was the only competitor.

"We had more people signed up, but they didn't make it," said Stan Kolbus who owns S&W with his wife, Wendy.

Saturday was also customer appreciation day at the feed store on Curry Street. Vendors set up booths around the store to answer questions about their products. On the gravel out back Joe Coito -- a supplier who came up from Modesto -- was barbecuing tri-tip and turkey in a secret marinade.

Children pulled sodas and water bottles from tubs of ice while men with mustaches in Wrangler jeans talked with Kolbus.

Vendors included Purina Mills, sponsor of the pet talent contest, Farnam horse supply, Michael Hohl Motors and Nutro pet food.

The competition is a nationwide search for the most talent pets in America. Winners from about 250 regional competitions have videos sent to national judges who pick the top competitor.

Last year's national sweepstakes winner was Bill Williamson of Carson City whose Golden Retriever, Budd, drove a 1929 Ford Pickup for the show. He won $10,000 from Purina just before Budd was hit by a car and killed.

This year Williamson brought 8-month-old driving-dog trainee Beauregard -- another Golden Retriever. He drove the truck for a laughing crowd but Williamson didn't enter him in the competition.

"He's still just a pup," said Williamson with a twisted-tip handlebar moustache.

After the competition the crowd fanned out into the feed store.

Lamp and Velvet chatted with fans.

Three-and-a-half-year-old Stephanie Smittkamp peered into the bird's cage.

Wearing a tan skirt and purple socks with a huge orange butterfly temporarily tattooed on her arm, she spoke to the bird.


"Kakaaa," replied Velvet.

"Hi," said Stephanie again.


"Hi, hi, hi, hi, hi."


Purina Mills District Manager John Link from Grass Valley will send a video tape of the bird's performance to the national competition.

He said Purina provides the feed for the dolphins and Siegfried and Roy's white tigers at the Mirage in Las Vegas.


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