MOUNT VERNON — The Junior Fair goat show was held at the Knox County Fair Monday after the Junior Fair sheep show. The event was different from previous years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and because of the sanitary and social distancing measures that people had to take to participate in this year’s Junior Fair. The measures included wearing masks inside the barns at all times and keeping at least six feet apart from other fair-goers.

Laura Hill, a 15-year-old and member of Down On The Farm 4-H Club from Gambier, had some insight on her experiences with raising a goat as her 4-H project this year. From her perspective, the animal’s co-operation is very important when it comes to showing the animal. Showmanship wasn’t an aspect of the goat show event this year because of the virus, but the goat’s co-operation in the regular show is important to show off the animal’s muscles to the judge. When one sees a show participant repositioning their animal, they are doing so to present their animal to the judge in the best possible way and to show off the animal’s body.

Grooming is another important aspect of raising a show goat.

“You have to shave them and make sure they are groomed well,” said Hill. “You also have to trim their hooves.”

The grooming aspect of having a goat as a 4-H project is important not only for the animal to look good on show day, but also for the animal to have good health. Having enough space for the goat to graze grass and having a place for the goat to sleep on sawdust is also important for the goat’s well-being. Space gives the goat enough room to get some well-needed exercise and a clean and dry place to sleep. Sawdust can help prevent the goat from getting sick.

Those showing their goat are also responsible for tracking their animal’s weight.

“When you get their starting weight you can weigh them each week to get the rate of gain of the animal to make sure that the goat makes the weight requirements for the show,” said Hill.

Trista Wilson is a 14-year-old 4-Her with the Mixed Blessings 4-H Club in her hometown of Danville. Wilson had a similar perspective to Hill in terms of her goat 4-H project.

“You have to get close with the animal,” said Wilson. “You have to tame the animal because obviously when you get it, the people haven’t worked with it. You have to walk it and discipline it when needed. You have to keep the animal in line for when the judge is supposed to look at it and that requires training.”

Wilson thinks that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the fair this year and the Junior Fair goat show.

“The fair’s not normal,” said Wilson. “Normally everyone would be up here. It’s more calm this year because there are no people, but it’s also more chaotic this year because we are doing the goat show at the same time as the sheep show and that’s a new thing.”

Erich Rhodeback is a 17-year-old 4-Her from Brandon. He has a unique perspective on the junior goat fair because he shows goats that aren’t typically shown at the Knox County Junior Fair. Rhodeback is among a select group of 4-Hers trying to make a certain type of goat be a more competitive choice at county fairs.

“Showing dairy market goats is a growing trend,” said Rhodeback. “Usually you see Boer or Boer cross meat goats being shown at the fair.”

Rhodeback said that letting go of the animal at the end of the fair was the hardest part of raising a show animal and this was made even harder by the fact that the goats and sheep are taken away the day of the show this year.

“The hardest part of showing is letting the animal go at the end,” said Rhodeback. “This goat (named Michael) and I have been to seven shows together and I don’t want to let him go.”

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Cody Strawser: 740-397-5333 or cody@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews