This weekend was the North Stonington fair. In 2012, we showed goats for the first time at that fair. After 6 summers without goats, we made our return to the fair scene and the goat barn with our Lamanchas. And it rained. A lot. I saw estimates that we had between 3.5-4″ of rain in just over 24 hours, but let’s not jump ahead too much.
Last fall, we rebuilt our herd of Lamanchas and had 5 does that kidded this spring. We have already sold some goats, but at this point we have 3 does in milk, 2 dry yearlings, and 5 baby doelings (plus a buck and his wether companion). Quinn and Amanda wanted to show goats and this was their first time back in the ring. Another one of the girls from the 4-H club, Kaylin, leased some goats as a 4-H project. The three of them have been working hard at getting the goats ready – clipping, studying, handling, etc. Thursday afternoon, we loaded up the trailer with goats and headed to the North Stonington fairgrounds. We got the pens set up and the kids did finishing touches on clipping and cleaned up udders on the goats. After that, they headed out as a group to ride the fair rides and eat some dinner. Fair food!
Everything was going well, but there was this little rainstorm coming through. Let’s call it, Elsa. Elsa was a tropical storm as it passed through the area. It started raining overnight Thursday to Friday, and it kept raining. A lot. The fairgrounds were already pretty saturated from rain over the previous week. The area where the travel trailers were parked was a bog. You couldn’t get to the trailers without rubber boots. But we took care of the animals and retreated to the trailer for some food and hanging out until the rain subsided.
The rain ended Friday afternoon, and all the exhibitors started emerging from their hiding places. Due to all the rain and standing water, the fair didn’t officially open on Friday evening. After some back and forth, the fair board did decide to allow the youth goat show to go forward on Friday evening since all the goats and exhibitors were already present. So, at 6:30 pm Friday, the youth show started with 60+ goats.
The show didn’t end until about 9:30 and by the time the kids were done with chores, everyone was ready for a shower and some sleep. As I started to fall asleep, another big storm hit the fairgrounds and dumped another inch or so of water on the already saturated grounds. We woke up Saturday to find that our canopy was destroyed overnight, but the weather was clear. The show on Saturday included ~160 goats. It took all day.
At the end of the day on Saturday, we headed home with a trailer full of tired goats and 3 4-Hers who had a great time working together. They showed all our goats and helped others show Alpines, Nubians, Oberhaslis, and others. On the way home, they were talking about the next show, making an FAQ for the stalls (“why don’t your goats have any ears?”), and in general looking forward to the next show.
Goats are a lot of work and cost a lot money. But watching the kids work together, take responsibility for the animals, build their confidence the in show ring and speaking to the public makes it all worth it.