By Amy Daybert Herald Writer
MONROE — Emma Hughes shook a small container of alfalfa pellets under her goat’s nose.
The 9-year-old girl used the food to entice her goat, Elly, to go up, across, and down a ramp Saturday afternoon at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds. The ramp was part of an obstacle course at the second annual Goatalympics.
It wasn’t easy work, especially without a leash. When the Nigerian Dwarf goat got to a hula hoop she walked around it instead of going through. Emma led her back around to the front of the hoop to try the maneuver again. That time, the goat went through the hoop. The pair finished the course and the arena crowd applauded.
“I think I like everything about (the obstacle course),” Emma said. “I do dog agility and this is kind of like that but it’s harder with a goat.”
She gave Elly a quick kiss on the head.
The Goatalympics were a chance for people who own goats to show off their animal’s skills with events ranging from races to contests for “loudest bleat” and “coolest horns” and costume and stall decorating.
The event also was an opportunity to raise money for goats that are cared for, rehabilitated, and then adopted out at New Moon Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary in Arlington.
“One of the things horse rescues do for fundraisers is they have horse shows but the kinds of things that a typical goat show is featuring are things that we’re not really interested in like milk production,” said Ellen Felsenthal, director of New Moon Farm. “So we wanted to create a show that was fun where people could come and just enjoy their goats without it being stressful and competitive.”
Since 1999, New Moon Farm has taken in and found homes for 1,000 goats. Last year’s show raised about $2,000 and it all went to caring for the goats, Felsenthal said. This year, she estimates they raised about $4,000.
“There’s a lot of rescues dealing with cats and dogs and horses and I thought no one else was doing this so I decided to make it my thing,” she said.
The show featured about 50 goats of different sizes and breeds. Goat owners paid entry fees to participate in the events while the show was free for spectators.
Felsenthal recognized about half of the goats in the show as being adopted from New Moon Farm. Adoptable goats from the farm were featured in events and wore orange bandanas.
New Moon Farm has about 68 goats available for adoption, Felsenthal said. Goats are a good option for anyone who would like to own livestock, she added.
“They’re just fun to have around,” Felsenthal said. “Goats are great pets. They’re like lawn mowing dogs and they’re really personable and intelligent and sweet.”
Christine Kellogg, 41, was initially interested in owning goats so they would clear blackberries on her 10-acre property near Monroe. She brought Stan, a year-old LaMancha Kiko cross breed, to compete in the Goatalympics for the first time. He won a first place ribbon for having the most unusual color.
“He interprets that to be most beautiful,” Kellogg said.
A spectator at last year’s Goatalympics, Kellogg has for the past six months volunteered to care for goats at New Moon Farm.
“I never thought I would fall in love with (goats) like I have,” she said. “I never thought I would be at the Goatalympics.”
The event was all about having a good time with his family and their three goats, said Steve Jordan, 65, of Mount Vernon.
“Everyone gets a ribbon just for effort and that’s what it’s about, applauding the effort,” he said.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.