Weld County Fair sees spike in attendance, record-breaking sales and grand theft goat | TheFencePost.com

Weld County Fair sees spike in attendance, record-breaking sales and grand theft goat

Nikki Work | Fence Post Editorial Assistant
Britney Self, 14, of Kersey has a pink ribbon on her rabbit while at the Weld County Fair auction on Monday in Greeley. The auction produced over $795,000.
JIM RYDBOM/jrydbom@greeleytribune.com |

The goat that got away: Grand champion goat disappears before sale

Who’s got the goat? No one knows.

The grand champion goat from the Weld County Fair was reported missing July 28, along with one of his two halters.

“The goat is missing,” said Janet Konkel, the Weld County fair coordinator. “We have contacted the Greeley Police and there’s an ongoing investigation.”

The goat, Rocky, was exhibited in the Market Goat Show by David Smith, 18, of Niwot, Colo., and was scheduled to appear at the Junior Livestock Auction the night it went missing. A news release regarding the goat’s mysterious disappearance stated “the circumstances surrounding the disappearance are unknown.”

Rocky is a red colored Boer breed with a white stripe around its upper midsection. It has Weld County tag number 3292 in its ear.

According to Kevin Maxey, director for the Weld County 4-H Extension, the goat’s markings are unique for its breed.

“We actually don’t have much information,” said Darian Warden, communications specialist for Weld County. “All we know is the owner reported the goat missing about 10:30 Monday morning. We have not received any information since then.”

According to the police report filed, the goat was last seen around 10 p.m. July 27.

Despite the goat’s disappearance, the fair board proceeded in auctioning the animal at the Junior Livestock Sale July 28. Pictures of the goat were printed for potential bidders.

“Bidders were aware that the goat was not actually in the owner’s possession,” Warden said.

The absentee goat was bought for $5,500 by MS Biotec. According to Warden, the fair board will decide the path of action in finalizing the goat’s sale pending further investigation by the police.

Lanas Smith, David’s father, said that though he has his suspicions, his family has no idea what happened to their prize-winning goat.

“I don’t really want to insinuate that someone stole the goat at this point,” Smith said. “I mean, it’s possible the goat did escape and is just out in a corn field or something.”

No matter if Rocky is found, Smith said, his son will get to keep the money from the auction, which he plans to donate to the Temple Grandin Center for Equine-Assisted Therapy Research and Education.

“That’s probably the most exciting thing for David, that he’s still going to be able to do that,” Smith said.

Michael Lipfield, CEO for MS Biotec, said they were aware the goat was not in Smith’s possession, but placed their bid to support 4-H.

“I hope we find it, but that was secondary from our standpoint,” Lipfield said. “It’s certainly not worth what we paid for it based on value — it’s more of what we’re supporting.”

Lipfield said to his knowledge, they were not planning on selling the goat for meat and were going to keep it alive.

There is a security committee within the Weld County Fair in charge of the safety of the animals on the fairgrounds. According to Konkel, all the information on the goat’s disappearance from fair staff was given to the Greeley Police Department.

Greeley police Sgt. Joe Tymkowych said the case has been assigned to an officer who is investigating despite the lack of current leads. The officer on the case has spoken to groundskeepers and fair officials alike, one of whom said that in his 33 years on the job, he’d never seen an animal vanish.

“It’s kind of unique, I think, that we’d have something like this occur this time,” Tymkowych said.

He also said that to his understanding, the goat was in “a specific pen in a specific area,” but the pen wasn’t locked or secured. He also said there were no signs of forced entry.

Greeley Police received a call at 6:38 p.m. July 31 from a man in Eaton, Colo., who said he had heard a goat in his yard on the day of Rocky’s disappearance. The description he gave was vague, and Sgt. Mike Heck with the Greeley Police said though people in the area have been advised to be on the lookout, there are no leads to follow up on at this point. At the time of publication, Tymkowych had also confirmed that there were no existing leads or further developments in the case.

Anyone with any information regarding the missing goat is being asked to contact Greeley Police at (970) 350-9605.

Weld County Fair Award Winners

All Around Showmanship Senior – Large Animal - Tanner Fetzer

All Around Showmanship Intermediate – Large Animal - Cody Baumgartner

All Around Showmanship Senior – Small Animal - Savannah Hirsch

All Around Showmanship Intermediate – Small Animal – Alaina Endreson

Premier Exhibitor Contest

For the last six years, the Weld County Fair has held this competition as an additional way to recognize fair exhibitors. The contest is scored on a point system and consists of a written test, placing in showmanship, showing both breeding and market animals and herdsmanship.

This years winners were:

Large Animal

Beef – Ashlyn Ochsner

Dairy – Sarah Hirsch

Goat – Bailee Hatch

Horse – Andi Jensen

Sheep – Jenna Frink

Swine - Jake Johnson

Small Animal

Dog – Amanda Miller

Poultry – Jeremy Segelke

Rabbit – Savannah Hirsch

County Projects, Family Consumer Science and General and Natural Resource – Cullen Stevens

Mitchell Bowman Memorial Award for sportsmanship

Beef – Collin Ochsner

Sheep – Jaylin Lohr

Champion animals


Grand Champion: David Smith, $5,500 — Sold to MS Biotec

Reserve Grand Champion: David Smith, $5,000 — Sold to Anadarko Petroleum


Grand Champion: Shannon Kos, $1,600 — Sold to Fort Lupton Buyers Club

Reserve Grand Champion: Kyan Morgan, $850 — Sold to Select Energy Services


Grand Champion: Jed Sidwell, $11,000 — Sold to Alyssa, Tate, Tatum, Tegan DePorter and Ultimate Services

Reserve Grand Champion: Kayla Frink, $4,000 — Sold to Anadarko Petroleum


Grand Champion: Ian Lovell, $1,750 — Sold to Fabrizius Seeding, John Scanga, Justus and Debbie Pettit

Reserve Grand Champion: Connor Lovell, $1,500 — Sold to Quality Well and Pump


Grand Champion: Austin Huwa, $18,500 — Sold to Anadarko Petroleum

Reserve Grand Champion: Bo Naibauer, $11,000 — Sold to Energes Services


Grand Champion: Grant Vickland, $1,500 — Sold to Anadarko Petroleum

Reserve Grand Champion: Vada Vickland, $500 — Sold to Animal Health International


Grand Champion: Parker Gilliland, $15,000 — Anadarko Petroleum and In and Out Oil Field Services

Reserve Grand Champion: Hanna McGirl, $12,250 — Energes Services

The Weld County Fair Junior Livestock Sale has a way of breaking records.

The money brought in at the auction July 28 broke the record for total dollars by nearly $90,000.

The sale was “phenomenal,” said Carrie Huenink, treasurer of the fair’s sale board.

She said this year’s sale brought in $795,300, even before the add-ons — donations made after the sale — have been calculated.

At last year’s fair, the total for the auction alone was $590,000 and, with add-ons, the total was a then-record-breaking $705,329.33. Last year’s total broke the previous record by about $80,000.

To many involved with the fair, the record-breaking amounts show the support the community gives 4-H programs.

“It’s the best county in the country,” said Casey Sidwell, mother of 11-year-old Jed Sidwell, one of this year’s exhibitors. “There’s no other place that supports their kids like Weld County does — not any of the state fairs or any of the counties anywhere. Our kids are very fortunate, but we have some of the best kids too, I think.”

Jed, from Gill, Colo., showed the champion market lamb, which pulled in $11,000 at the auction, and he was the champion junior lamb showman and the reserve champion in Junior Beef Showmanship. The money his lamb brought in will go into a college savings fund for him and his 8-year-old brother, who will start showing next year.

“It was pretty darn cool,” said Jed, a fifth generation 4-H member. “It was a great year … best one I’ve ever had, by far.”

The biggest sale of the day was of the grand champion steer, which sold for $18,500 and was showed by 12-year-old Austin Huwa of Roggan, Colo.

“It was exciting and cool,” Austin said.

Austin’s mother, Tonya Huwa, said all five of the family’s children, Cody, Kylie, Austin, Trey and Brealynn showed at the fair. Between them, they showed six steer, six hogs and a bucket calf. The family has a tradition of donating part of their winnings to 15-year-old Kylie’s cheer team, the Cheer Central Suns special needs team.

“With her being on that team, they are such an inspiration to our whole family,” Tonya Huwa said. “We just love being on that team and there’s a lot of parents who cant afford to travel like they do. We just like to be able to help out because we’re so fortunate that we can do that. We just really look up to that team. What it’s done for Kylie is amazing.”

Tonya Huwa said that once their season ends after the state fair, the family will meet and decide the specifics of their donation.

Although Huenink said she wasn’t sure if it the high dollar amount the grand champion steer brought in was a record, it was the highest sale she’s seen.

“I’ve been working on the sale committee for 14 years, and in that time we’ve never had one go that high,” Huenink said.

The increase in participation was visible, said Keith Maxey, Weld County Extension director.

“I thought this was a great fair that we had this year,” Maxey said. “Many of our exhibit numbers were up.”

Janet Konkel, fair coordinator, said this year saw 36,500 people in attendance, a 7 percent increase over last year.

“Just looking at the crowds, it looked like we had bigger crowds at all of our livestock shows,” Konkel said. “It just looked like we had really good crowds at all the things we had going on. I think that they’ve discovered that they have a great fair in this county.”

Though fair officials believe that this was a strong year for the fair, Maxey emphasized the amount of work that goes into every year’s success.

“It doesn’t just happen. It’s a year-long planning event,” Maxey said. “This one was a great fair, but wouldn’t happen without the dedication of a lot of people.”

For Kersey’s Bailie Fox, the intermediate division champion showman who sold her champion hampshire swine for $2,500, meeting new people and carrying on her family’s legacy in 4-H was the best part of competing in the fair.

“It’s kind of like a tradition in our family,” Bailie said. “My mom did it and her dad did it, so I just wanted to keep going with it.”

Bailie, 14, has been showing for seven years, and her mother, Amy Fox, said her daughter’s success is incredible to see.

“One of my favorite things to do is to watch her in that show ring,” Amy Fox said.

Although this year’s numbers were impressive, Huenink said it’s about much more than just the sale.

“Having 4-H projects and FFA projects teaches responsibility, it teaches commitment, it teaches working towards goals,” she said. “I just think there’s a lot of good things that come out of these programs for young people.” ❖

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