JANESVILLE

They were just kidding around.

There, we got the goat joke out of the way and can move on to the content of the story.

On Saturday afternoon, goats at the Rock County 4-H Fair took a break from chewing on their cud and/or visitors to take to the show ring for fun and games.

Events included a “dress a goat” contest, a goat obstacle course, a milking contest, a junior showmanship contest and a fitting contest.

Kristie Dooley, goat guru and superintendent of the 4-H goat project, said the events were just for fun, and that they gave the kids another chance to interact with their animals.

The obstacle course included weaving through cones, jumping over low hurdles, putting at least one hoof in a kiddie pool of water and climbing up and down a ramp. Anyone who has spent five minutes with goats knows they are good climbers and often can be quite playful. According to Wikipedia, they are the “only ruminant to regularly climb trees.”

Yes, it’s difficult to imagine that any other ruminants native to Wisconsin—cows, steers, deer and sheep—climb trees. If you do witness such a thing, please call the newsroom’s tip line.

Playfulness at home doesn’t necessarily mean a goat is ready to frolic in the show ring—especially not after a long week in a strange barn. Some goats weren’t going to go through the course, and Dooley wouldn’t let the kids—the 4-Hers, that is—pull them—the goats—unwillingly through the course.

Next up was junior showmanship where very young children—we’re not making another kid joke—got to practice showing an animal under the guidance of older, more experienced 4-H members.

Kristin Mumm, 15, of Parkview FFA walked around the ring with 4-year-old Kylie Nelson. Mumm showed Kylie how to set the goat’s legs to best advantage, how to hold the goat’s head up and to have the animal between she and the judges at all time. Kylie took all of Mumm’s advice seriously, and that goat had her legs adjusted on a regular basis.

Hanna Koehn, 17, of Milton 4-H guided her 4-year-old niece, Cora Shea, around the ring. Koehn’s goat, Cinnamon, was on her best behavior, and Cora was diligent about keeping Cinnamon’s head raised. Or maybe she was just hugging the goat. It was difficult to tell.

Next was the goat milking contest, which was mostly a demonstration of how much harder it is to milk a goat into a soda bottle than into a bucket.

The final event of the day was a fitting contest. Each team of three was given an unshaven goat, and the team had 30 minutes to get it into show ring shape.

All of the events are a way to promote the project to younger children and to build the next generation of goat project members, Dooley said.

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