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Showing goats at State Fair is a family affair


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Showing goats is a family business for the Stewart family. Pictured are, from left, Jack Stewart, 15; Brad Stewart, father; Sampson Stewart, 12; Max Stewart; Donna Trotter, grandmother; and Shanon Stewart, mother, with their champion goats at the Sullivan County 4-H Fair.

For the Stewart family, showing goats does not end with the county fair. They will be packing their bags and heading to the Indiana State Fair on Thursday, where they will be showing 20 goats.

Sons Max, Jack and Sampson have a combined 24 years of experience showing goats in 4-H and are no strangers when it comes to showing at the state level — this is their fourth year at the state fair.

Jack, 15, said at the state fair, “You have to be in the ring a lot longer, competition is a lot harder … there’s a lot more goats in the classes.”

To add to the vigor of the state fair, Jack also said the goats there are of higher quality.

The Stewarts will be dedicating this weekend to competing in open class competitions.

“We camp out at fair … We live in the goat barn for four days,” Shanon Stewart, mother, said. “We take our cots and take all of our food and a mini-kitchen and our pins — we sleep right next to the goats.”

In preparation for competing at the state level, the Stewarts compete in open shows all around the Midwest, taking up most of their weekends May through November.

“That is our vacation,” Shanon joked.

The Stewarts’ goats are registered through the Americal Dairy Goat Association and, this year, they took home two Grand Champions and a Reserve Champion from the County Fair and some goats have earned a Champion ribbon at open shows as well.

Through the ADGA, each Grand Champion win (when competing against 10 or more goats) is considered “earning a leg.” After winning a certain number of legs the goat then earns a “permanent leg.” The Stewarts have one goat that earned her permanent leg just this year.

Of course, none of this is possible without hard work and family.

“It is a family endeavor,” Shanon said. “I mean, it falls primarily on the kids.”

Max, who is taking pre-nursing courses at Ivy Tech, does the morning milking, while Jack, a freshman at Sullivan High School, takes care of the milking each evening.

“Everybody just pitches in. Everybody is out there haying and watering and feeding and walking,” Shanon said. “When I said it’s kind of like our vacation, it is.”

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