Some of the goats in the barn liked to yell out, almost similar to online videos of “screaming” goats.
That wasn’t Gracee’s style
“She’s a really nice, gentle goat,” said Lynea Eddington, 12, of Richland. “She’s laid back.”
Eddington and her goat, a 4-year-old Alpine Nubian, were among several competitors in the 4-H goat barn for judging Tuesday contests at the Benton-Franklin Fair & Rodeo.
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Gracee won grand champion at the fair in 2015 and 2016, when Eddington was still part of the juniors division.
The goats and caretakers at the barn appreciate fair visitors, said Angie Reeves, goat superintendent.
“They’re more than welcome to come up,” Reeves said. “We try to make it as fun as possible for our kids and the public.”
Display boards and diagrams, made by children who take care of the goats, could be seen hanging above many of the cages.
“That way, the public can know more about the animals than they ever thought about,” Reeves said.
Reeves started participating in 4-H when she was a kid and primarily raised steers, she said. Her parents bought goats after her niece was born, which is when she switched animals.
“For like 15-plus years, we’ve just raised goats,” she said.
Like many 4-H programs, the sittings and showings allow for children to help care for an animal and then display their qualities to judges based on certain attributes.
The most important thing I can do as a judge is teach.
Mark Addington, goat judge, Walla Walla
“At least 50 kids have to do sitting and showing,” Reeves said. “Responsibility is like the biggest takeaway from doing this.”
Mark Addington, of Walla Walla, has judged goats and coached children for more than 23 years.
“The most important thing I can do as a judge is teach,” he said.
Addington’s wife, Dar, helped him develop what’s now a passion, he said. He knows what makes for a good market goat to be sold, as opposed to what makes for a good dairy goat.
“I knew what a goat looked like, but I didn’t know one from another,” he said.
Now, he teaches other children in 4-H about what judges might keep an eye on. He wants to make sure they understand what to look for themselves when it comes time for the competitions.
From his experience, their work often pays off.
“They put a lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of work into these animals,” Addington said.
He mentioned muzzles as one feature to watch out for. He said it’s important to not just identify certain features, but to know why it’s important for goats to be of a certain condition or shape.
“If they have a badly framed muzzle, they’re not going to be able to eat or breathe,” Addington said.
For dairy goats, it’s all about rib spacing to make sure they have healthy lungs and heart, as well as a smooth skin.
“A dairy animal we want to have velvet skin,” he said.
More than anything, Addington wants people to enjoy and remember their experiences.
“Come to the fair and have fun,” he said.
The final goat barn championships, located at the ring and bleachers just outside of the goat barn, are at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The goat barn will also have a “milking with the celebrities” event, featuring the rodeo queen and princess, about 4 p.m. Saturday. All are welcome to attend.