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The sport of goats

By Mark Carpenter – 

Another fair week has come and gone and the pain in all of my lower extremities from blowing up the step function on my FitBit is all the proof I need. I always try to give the fair some kind of sports angle, which was easier this year with the appearance of Marty Brennaman, but every time I go to one of the contests in the Show Arena, I am always reminded of a column I wrote four years ago, one of my better ones in my humble opinion, one good for a few laughs (I hope). So here for an encore performance from the July 24, 2013 Defender archives- “The Sport of Goats.”
Capra aegagrus hircus. For those who have no clue what that means, it is the scientific classification for the domesticated goat, a group which I became quite familiar with last Wednesday evening at the Adams County Fair. Let me first say that covering the goat show was not on my list of favorite assignments here at the paper, but I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t so bad after all, especially after I convinced myself that the goat show could even be considered a sport.
Now being a sports-minded soul, when I think of the term “goat”, the names that immediately come to mind are Fred Merkle, Bill Buckner, Bob Moose, Scott Norwood, and a host of others. Now I didn’t see any balls or bats in the show arena,so I knew I was going to have to dig a little deeper for a sports connection and then it hit me. Isn’t competition one of the key elements of sports? The goat show certainly involved competition as the young people strived to be the best with their animals to impress the judge, who by the way resembled a young Trent Harrop. (Another of my observations on the evening.)
So once I had determined that I was attending a sporting event, my mind had to find some sporting elements in the arena.Well obviously there was an enthusiastic audience, made up of many parents and family members, much as I could see in a high school gymnasium. I saw a couple of goats jump which showed me they had some skills and the nifty little spin moves that each exhibitor had to perform would have left any defender lost on a basketball court.
I immediately noticed that goats seem to talk a lot and I could only imagine what they were saying. “Could you please quit dragging me around in this hot weather?” “Hey Joe, if we ever get out of here, we will have to go out for a few drinks.” “If that guy touches me there just once more!” “Hang in there friends, party in the goat barn when this is all over.” The goats also seemed to spend a lot of time with their tongues hanging out, which quickly made me conjure up a Gene Simmons connection.
There were times at the show where I wondered if I had wandered into the wrong place or perhaps was accidentally listening in on one of those 800 phone number conversations advertised on late night television. “Full in the flank”, Big loins”, Really big rack”, and “Firmer to the touch” were some of the phrases I was hearing over the P.A. system. Goodness, I bet those goats were embarrassed to hear that, but I imagine that there were many “humans” in the audience who wished they could garner those same compliments.
As you sit through six hours of goats, many odd things will drift into your mind. In the defense of the soldiers charged in the 1770 Boston Massacre, lawyer John Adams stated that “facts are stubborn things.” If Mr. Adams had been in the show arena last week, he would have amended his statement to say “Goats are stubborn things.” When one of those goats decided that he/she was not going to move, they were not going to move. I read that goats are very intelligent animals and I can only imagine that there intelligence kicked in when they realized they were being drug around by the neck in some seriously hot weather and finally said, “That’s enough.”
Just like many sporting events, this goat show had a number of interesting subplots. There were brothers showing against brothers and boyfriends showing in the same class as their girlfriends. I certainly hope no relationship is ruined over a stubborn goat. There were young people of all ages competing with their own age groups and then competing with exhibitors of other ages, which I found rather intriguing. A little Google research tells me that there are over 300 distinct breeds of goats. If that is the case, why did they all look alike to me? I was further impressed with a judge who drove two hours to find the differences in these animals. I just wanted to give him a black and white shirt and a whistle.
A little more research told me that goats are apt to eat about anything and known for their escape skills. I could only imagine the first person in the morning to enter the goat barn and find it totally empty as the goats had pulled off the complete jailbreak the night before. (Right out of a Pixar film.)
Weeds are also part of a goat’s diet which means that I certainly need one at my house. If I could get the goat to eat all the grass too, at least I would have one “kid” that could mow for me.
If the good Lord is willing and I am still kicking when the 2014 fair rolls around, you may just find me making a return trip to the goat show. After all, it is a sport and that is my specialty.

UPDATE: I have been to the goat show every year since.

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