Goats of all shapes, sizes and colors are penned around the barn, some being lead to the show ring, some returning from a bath. Kids and adults hover around the goats, milking some, and blow drying others.
This was the scene at the Weld County Goat Extravaganza, held April 26-28, at Island Grove Park in Greeley, Colo. Created 12 years ago, the WCGE is an open goat show that includes an educational aspect as well.
“When the Weld County Goat Extravaganza began, the main focus was education. There are many shows out there and we do not want it to become just another show. We wish to continue the educational focus always having seminars and vendors that can meet those educational goals. Another thing is our atmosphere, the show continues to be more relaxed than many other shows and that too helps the beginning goat participants learn what a goat show is all about,” said Larry Hooker, 4-H Youth Development and Livestock Extension Agent in Weld County.
He continued, “The Weld County Goat Extravaganza educates our participants, parents and public about Boer, Dairy, Pygmy and Fiber goats. It provides an opportunity to show goats within a positive environment and promotes goats as a species that can be raised by the breeder and small acreage owner alike.”
Producers from across Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska competed at the event, as well as 143 dairy goats, 90 market goats for the jackpot shot, 147 Boer goats for the breeding show, 50 pygmy goats, 46 fleece only goats and 45 fiber goats. That amounted to 524 total goats being shown.
One Boer goat producer who traveled from the Western Slope to compete was Erica Ashby, owner of Kickin’ A Ranch in Austin, Colo. Ashby has been raising goats since 2005, and has around 50 goats in her herd.
“I come to the show because it’s relatively near, and I like the atmosphere,” she said.
In addition to the shows, students also competed in showmanship classes. The winners from each division competed in a round-robin competition, showing market, dairy, pygmy and fiber goats to compete for the champion overall showman. Students were broken into age brackets that included pre-junior, junior, intermediate and senior divisions.
On Saturday, participants could also take part in various workshops, including showmanship and fitting, goat feeds and nutrition and handling difficult births. “Goat Feeds and Nutrition was taught by Dr. Kraig Peel, CSU Animal Science department, and handling difficult births was taught by Dr. Dave Van Metre DVM, DACVIM. They both did an excellent job and the attendance was very well attended. I had beginners as well as advanced attendees say how much they learned from these individuals. It was a great opportunity to learn about goats in these topic areas,” said Hooker.
The committee starts planning for the extravaganza in the fall, and the 14 local goat producers are on the committee from all of the different breeds. “I need to thank the Goat Extravaganza Planning Committee for all the hard work they put into this event. It takes a lot of time and effort to make this a success. I could not get this done without their help. And thank you to all that attended, it was great working with you,” said Hooker.
One member of the show’s planning committee who attended the show was Vicki Larson, owner of Harmody Alpines in Windsor, Colo.
“We began coming to the Weld County Goat Extravaganza because our children enjoyed showing their goats, we were always eager to learn more about raising dairy goats, and it was great to be surrounded by other breeders sharing ideas and experiences. For the past six years we have been involved in organizing the dairy goat portion of the WCGE,” she said.
She believes this show helps to promote the goat industry in the state, as well as provide education for the participants. “I think this show is good for the goat industry for the following reasons: It gives exhibitors another show option in Northern Colorado, offers new and experienced exhibitors educational workshops to further their knowledge, shares the positive aspects of raising goats with the public, and gives a marketing opportunity for local breeders,” she said.
All of the different breeders gained valuable information and connections during the weekend. “My favorite part of the show was seeing the families that were new to the show, both first time attendees as well as first time ever having goats. They come in to the show nervous, unsure and uneducated about what to do and where to go and leave the show more confident, and feeling much better about themselves. Sometimes it is hard to do something new but when you try it makes things much better,” Hooker stated. ❖