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Report From The Great Frederick Fair, 2011

As with all previous years, the Frederick County 4-H Packgoat group held a spectator demonstration on Sept 17th, the first Saturday evening of the fair. This event is actually the highlight for me as it gives the kids an opportunity to show off their goats and their skills without the pressure of competition. One of our group members had written a letter to the editor about packgoats and promoting our fair activities. Not only was her letter published in the Sunday edition of the paper, but a subsequent article about "must-do" activities at the fair listed our demonstration. As a result, we had plenty of folks come out to see the kids in action, and I don't think anybody left disappointed!

As part of the spectator demonstration, we invite the audience to lead a goat around the obstacles. This year we brought in a few babies for the younger particpants ... this is definatley something we'll continue to repeat as this worked out really well. Particularly with Ossian ... some of you may know him as the goat bred by Carolyn Eddy that I had purchased and flown in from Oregon. He has an aboslutely perfect disposition and Rhiannon had been working with him on the obstacles so he already was handling them with ease and kept the fair goers very entertained.

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He worked really hard and slept really hard after!

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And so did the kids ... one of the highlights for them is getting to spend a couple of nights on the fairgrounds with their animals!

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The following morning we held our competitive event. This year was amazing! The level of competition was really high as every single one of the kids now have at least two years of experience (though this also means we didn't have a novice class, so we need to do more recruiting next year!). The difference between first and second place in the intermediate class was a single point and the difference between first and last was the narrowest we've ever had. Goats and handlers all were brilliant!

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Our course was largely unchanged from last year, at least in terms of the obstacles themselves. I did change the direction of travel a bit and rearranged for better audience appeal.

[attachment=0:168cvsns]GFF2011Course.jpg[/attachment:168cvsns]

What really pleased me more than any of the results, though, was to see each of the kids really encouraging each other and cheering one another on. While the element of competition was certainly there, you could tell that having fun was first and foremost for this awesome group of kids. After the competition they spent the rest of the day interacting with the public and doing what they do best ... promoting packgoats and 4-H!

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Now on to planning a two-nighter for the group to Dolly Sods, WV ... one of the most beautiful pieces of backcountry east of the Mississipi.
 

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