The one that goat away: Disappearance of goat at 2014 Weld County Fair leads to procedural changes
Weld County Fair
The 97th Weld County Fair will be held at Island Grove Regional Park, with events running daily throughout the week.
Today at the Fair:
All Day, Sandpile for Fun
7 a.m., 4-H Horse Show — ranch and timed events, grandstand arena
9 a.m., Market and Breeding Meat Goat Show including showmanship, event center
More about the fair and a full schedule can be found a http://www.weldcountyfair.com.
Cory Holcomb remembers the day the grand champion goat disappeared from the Weld County Fair one year ago. He said it felt surreal to be in the goat pens, talking with other parents who couldn’t believe an animal could just vanish from their fair.
“It was just weird,” he said, shaking his head as he haltered a stubborn goat Tuesday at the Weld County Fair.
But the Holcombs, along with dozens of other families, came back to the fair to show their goats this year in the hopes that like lightning, kid-nappers don’t strike the same place twice.
Last year’s prize-winner, a Boer goat named Rocky shown by David Smith of Niwot, Colo., disappeared before the Junior Livestock Sale. The animal still sold for $5,500 to officials from MS Biotec who wanted to support the 18-year-old 4-H student regardless of his ruminant’s whereabouts.
Greeley Police opened an investigation into the missing goat and asked the public for tips, followed any leads that cropped up, including one that led them to Denver after a report of a goat in a car window.
Rocky, who was 7-months-old when he vanished, is still a goat on the lam.
For Holcomb, whose two daughters show Boer goats, last year’s goat-astrophe didn’t even play a part in the decision to show this year.
“More than anything, the kids are going to do and show the way they did before,” Holcomb said. “They like to show and they like the animals, so it wasn’t an option not to come.”
Keith Maxey, director of Weld County Extension, said the strange event was the first of its kind in the event’s history. Though he hopes the Weld County Fair will never deal with this type of situation again, Maxey said new measures were put in place this year to reduce the chance of livestock goat-aways.
First, more fair staff will be involved in locking down the livestock barns at night. Before, only one or two people were in charge of securing the animals for the night, so the three buildings were locked up one-by-one. This year, more staff members will work to secure each building at the same time.
The Weld County Fair also is employing different animal release strategies this year, which means only certain animals can leave the premises on certain days. This will make it easier for event staff to ensure the right animals are going home with the right people, Maxey said.
“It’s something that was just so unexpected and so rare that we didn’t want to be really punitive on everybody else for something that probably won’t ever happen again,” he said, explaining that no matter how rare it was, he still wants fair participants to feel their animals are safe.
For some, like 16-year-old Kailen Linnertz, a junior at Highland High School in Ault, Colo., it’s easy to feel safe. Though last year was her first time showing goats and her animals were located just pens away from Rocky, she wasn’t worried about coming back this year. She said for the most part, people at the fair look out for each other.
Dakota Kos, a 17-year-old senior at Weld Central, feels differently. She said last year’s grand theft goat made her worry about whether she can trust her competitors. She and her younger sister are being more conscientious about whom they talk to and what happens with their goats this year.
Shay Northrup, 18, and Allyssa Funk, 17, were fair royalty last year and helped in the search for the goat, something Funk said was “insane.” Both girls said they weren’t concerned about bringing their goats and doubted many other participants were.
“I don’t think anybody would (worry) because of everything that happened last year,” Northrup said. “I don’t think anyone would be dumb enough to do that again.” ❖
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