Goat competitors open fair's livestock shows
By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 2, 2009 1:46 PM
Avery Faulkner, left, offers some advice to his cousin, Caleb Heath, both of the Seven Springs area, before he leads his goat into the arena Thursday night in the novice division of the Carolina Youth Meat Goat Showmanship Circuit. Faulkner won the senior division and is closing in on the circuit title. Heath took second place.
Most people at Thursday's opening of the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair were there for the midway rides and games, the candy apples and cotton candy.
Avery Faulkner was there for a large shiny new belt buckle.
But it's not just any belt buckle -- he wants the one that will proclaim him as champion of the senior division of the Carolina Youth Meat Goat Showmanship Circuit.
It is a goal he has chased for several years, and one that he all but locked up after winning last night's competition. With just one show left, next month in Pitt County, the win gave him the points lead.
Youths from about ages 5 to 18 competed in three different divisions: novice, 8 and younger; junior, 9-13 years; and senior, 14-18. The awards ceremony for the 2009 circuit will be held Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. at the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh.
More than 60 youths competed Thursday representing counties from across eastern North Carolina. They showed 79 goats.
"This show has been very good," judge Cameron Sasser of Stanfield said. "As far as I know this has been the most numbers of goats I have judged this year. All of the showmen have done a good job. This show is one of the bigger ones I have judged this year."
As he walked around the contestants and their animals, Sasser would stop and talk to the children.
"Anytime I talk to any of these young children, I just try to give them little things that they can improve on -- little things that they can do different," he said. "A lot of the children get a little excited. I tell them to calm down, breathe, just little things that in the end will make them better showmen."
Sasser, who was graduated last year from Virginia Tech with a degree in animal and poultry science, has been judging goat shows for about four years. He runs his family's farm and works for a consulting company.
For Faulkner, a junior at Spring Creek High School near Seven Springs, Thursday's show took him a step closer to realizing his goal.
"I am closing in on the grand champion belt buckle," said Faulkner, who will turn 17 next month. "You name it, we have just about been there (to compete). I feel good now. I been in the chase for three years, and I have been close every year.
"I love winning. I raise my goats. I work with my goats, and I do the same thing with my cattle. I work hard for it. I love to win. I am not going to be a poor sport if I don't win. I am disappointed. I come here, and I expect my animals to be good. That is what I love the best about it."
Faulkner has been showing goats since he was 9 and his first show was at the Junior Livestock Show and Sale at the Wayne County fairgrounds.
"It took off from there," he said. "We went from once a year to several circuit shows and breeding our own goats."
Faulkner said he left school early to wash and blow dry the four goats he showed. His current herd is made up of about 40 goats.
He said he doesn't know how much time he spends working with either his goats or cattle, but that the cattle require more time. He will be back at the fairgrounds Saturday morning to show cattle in the heifer show.
Faulkner, who is heavily involved in FFA, plans to attend N.C. State University's two-year agriculture program for a degree in raising turkeys and hogs and wants to have his own livestock operations.
His goal is to teach agriculture, but he said what he really wants to do is work in a job that retains his involvement with FFA.
Faulkner will run for a regional FFA office this spring and in his senior year for state office. If wins there, he plans to try for a national office.
"And as long as I have my livestock operation going on, I will be just as happy as I can be," he said. "I have been zoned in on FFA since middle school trying to do everything I can to help me have a better future."
As his cousin, Caleb Heath, 8, was awaiting his turn to compete, Faulkner offered some advice.
Like Faulkner, Heath, who lives near Seven Springs, said what he enjoys most about the competition is first place.
A student at Faith Christian Academy, Heath won first place in the initial rounds of the novice division, finishing second on the night.
It is his second year of showing goats and he said he enjoys working with the animals. He has about 25 goats on his grandfather, Russell Vinson's, farm.
"I spend a lot of time with them," he said.
Daniel Dunn, 8, a third-grader at Grantham School was sitting on one of the bales of hay lining the arena, his goat munching on the hay.
"I like to hold and pet them," he said.
Dunn, who has been showing goats for about three years, placed second in the preliminary rounds and ended the evening in fifth place.
He said he felt good about his finish.
Elizabeth Rowe, 17, of Dudley, who competed in the senior division, said she had " rather show a goat and drag a goat around the ring than chase boys. I have been showing goats a good six to seven years now. I've been showing since I was 9 years old. It is a fun sport."
She, too, got her start at the Junior Livestock Show and Sale.
"The person we bought our hay from in Grantham, Mr. Mark Hood, he had a herd of goats and he would have one that would be orphaned every now and then and that is the way I got started raising goats," she said. "After I started raising goats, I started finding out about these different goat shows."
Now she has a shelf full of ribbons and trophies.
"I told Mom she is going to have to build an extra room on the house," she said.
But for Miss Rowe, the competition is more than just winning ribbons and trophies.
"I enjoy showing goats," she said. "I have a lot of friends here. You learn so much from goat showing. You learn about the economy and how it works and how you play a part in it as a producer."
Prior to Thursday's show, Miss Rowe was busy grooming her two goats -- brushing them, polishing their horns, and doing touch up on the hooves, ears and tail. The work started months ahead of the show.
"Two weeks ahead you decide what you are going to bring and you wash the goats and trim them," she said. "Then when you get to the show you kind of do a touchup of everything you did in the past two weeks. It is time consuming. You have to start way in advance you have to work with the goat get him to lead and set up and things like that."
A student at Wayne Early Middle College High School, Miss Rowe works at Berkeley Veterinarian Clinic. She plans to attend N.C. State University to become a veterinarian.