PNT Photo: Lisa Sonnenschein
The day before the Market Goat Show at the Roosevelt County Fair, Kelsey McKinney’s goat did one of the things goats are known for doing — eating anything they find.
Kit Pettigrew, McKinney’s agriculture teacher from Dora, was at the fairgrounds when it happened.
“Her goat ate a whole bottle of soap,” he said. “Someone asked me what we were going to do. I said, ‘We’ll just give him some water and he’ll be the cleanest goat inside and out.’”
On Thursday evening, Kelsey’s goat took first place in Class II of the show from among 13 other competitors in the 70-79 pound weight category.
“Goats just eat everything,” said Kelsey, 15. “But they’re easy to raise. You just have to feed them and water them and walk them and clip them.”
Her brother, Tysen, 12, said he helped by walking the goat once a day.
Their parents, Deanne and Aldron McKinney, said the kids had fun working with the goat for the fair.
“That goat even rode right in the truck with us,” Deanne McKinney said. “We tried to put him in the horse trailer. But he just gets in the truck and lays in the floorboard by the front seat, right there with your feet. That’s how we got him here to the fair.”
When it comes to raising animals to show at the fair, family involvement seems to be a common theme.
After Ryan Best, 12, won this year’s Grand Champion at Thursday’s Market Goat Show, he hugged his sister, Reavis, 11, and credited her with helping him a lot.
“I just told him to keep at it and work at it and not get frustrated,” Reavis said.
For 4-year-old Alicia Herrington of Portales, raising rabbits for the fair is just sheer fun.
“The rabbits, I love the rabbits,” she said. “My rabbits are Little Dipper, Brownie, Jar Jar and Penelope. I like to feed them and hold them.”
Her babysitter, Rachel Nicholas, 15, said she gave Little Dipper to Alicia and helps her take care of the rabbits by feeding them rabbit food, Shredded Wheat and Cheerios. They also receives advice from their friend Jessie Evans, 9, who won two trophies for showing rabbits at last year’s fair.
For many children, raising and showing animals at the fair creates a common bond and instills self-confidence, as well as providing a fun activity in which they can take pride.
Portales High School senior Mark Gore, 18, said the younger boys and girls who live at the Christian Children’s Home enjoy getting a variety of animals ready for the annual fair.
“They raise pigs, sheep, chickens and rabbits,” said Gore, who has been at the Children’s Home for seven years. “It benefits them pretty good, especially if their animals make it to the livestock sale because then they get a good savings account.”
Gore, who once won a first-place belt buckle for showing sheep, said caring for the animals makes the youngsters feel good and lets them learn everything that goes into raising livestock.
“They learn a lot about responsibility,” Gore said. “The kids wake up early and go down and feed their animals. They shear them and give them medicine and take care of them.”