Goat dress up (1)

By Rhonda Mix


BELVIDERE – On Thursday, Aug. 13, one or two of the competitors butted heads with their handlers and bleated in protest as they were led around the show area in the dairy goat barn, but for the most part, the goats entered in the Boone County Fair 4-H goat show walked proud with their tails wagging.

The competition featured dairy and Boer goats, with several classes within the two categories.

Jennifer Lohman with the American Dairy Goat Association served as judge.

Though a number of ribbons were given out to all of the 4-H participants, there were several big wins of the day.

The goats of Zachary and Nate Ducharme, Poplar Grove, won the titles of Grand Champion Sr. Doe and Grand Champion Wether in addition to several others.

Abby Hopkins, Caledonia, received Reserve Champion in several classes, and Meghan Rush’s goats received the title of Grand Champion Boer Doe and best of the costume class – in which she and her best friend Annalea Taylor hitched their goat to a cart.

Rush said she “shares” the goat featured in the costume class with Taylor, who is new to 4-H. The girls’ prized goat and several of Rush’s other goats received ribbons across several classes.

“We love working with goats because of how sweet they are,” Taylor shared. “And some goats aren’t nice, but you can train them to be.”

The two young ladies, both age 11 and from Kirkland, also shared their thoughts on 4-H.

“It is important because we would be nothing without agriculture,” said Rush.

“It really helps kids to be involved and to work together,” added Taylor.

This was the first year Nate Ducharme participated in a 4-H show. The 9-year-old said he was proud his goat earned the title of Grand Champion Wether and he was “feeling pretty confident.”

“I like being a part of 4-H and it teaches me how to talk to other people,” he said. “When kids grow up, they need to be able to talk to other people.”

Several adults at the show also expressed their feelings about the program.

Pam Franseen, whose family owns Friendly Franseen Acres goat farm in Poplar Grove, is a strong supporter.

“4-H teaches kids respect for other kids, responsibility, cooperation, and how to belong to a club,” she said. “All my kids did 4-H.”

“I strongly believe in 4-H,” said Ellis Mundy, an instrumental figure behind the Boone County Fair 4-H goat show. Superintendent of 4-H, Mundy has extensive experience with goats and raised them himself for a number of years.

“The program gives kids a place to show animals. The kids are proud of their projects and love to exhibit. Dairy goats are easy to raise for kids; they are like a mini version of a dairy cow but they are more personable.”

Melissa Irwin, Boone County 4-H program coordinator, says 4-H involvement is especially important because the program helps young people develop into good citizens as they explore possible lifetime careers.

“They learn the value of community service and doing things for others,” she said. “4-H brings parents and children together as they share a common activity, [and] this builds strong families. Attending 4-H meetings also helps youth learn about parliamentary procedure and public speaking.

When 4-H’ers spend 10 years in a program like this, they come out educated, driven, confident, and motivated.”

For more information on Boone County 4-H, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/bdo/boone4h.

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