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Goats, other farm animals take center stage at Nevada County Fair

Participant in the Nevada County Junior Livestock Show eagerly waits to present her goats at the fairgrounds on Tuesday.
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Know & Go

Aug. 12-16

Hours: Fair open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Exhibit buildings open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sunday until 9)

Carnival opens 11 a.m. daily

Location: Nevada County Fairgrounds

11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

Parking: $6 per car

Free shuttle from Nevada Union High School from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

Tickets: Adults $9, seniors $6, children (6-12) $4; Carnival bracelet for unlimited rides any one day: $28; Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.NevadaCountyFair.com

Special Discount Days

Wednesday: Scholar Students Day (Free admission for Honor Roll students)

Thursday: Kids 12 and under get free admission from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Friday: Day for People with Disabilities (Disabled persons and one guest get in for free from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.)

Saturday: Salute to our Armed Services Day (All active duty and retired military who show ID get free admission)

Sunday: Community Day: All fair-goers can purchase admission for $5 until 5 p.m.

As always at the Nevada County Fair, the animals will take center stage. And for all of their handlers, the fair represents the culmination of countless hours of hard work.

Animals of all shapes and sizes will be presented throughout the course of the fair, from cows and pigs to goats and sheep.

Some animals have been raised for breeding, others for auction, but all have been meticulously cared for by their breeders and handlers.



The goat pen, as with most of the other livestock barns, was teeming with activity Tuesday in preparation for the big day today. Goats must be weighed, tagged and their individual pens readied.

Marina McKenzie, who has been breeding and raising goats since she was just 6 years old, is hoping that her market goat Jumal will impress the judges enough to net her some much-needed college funds as she will be heading off to Victoria University in Canada in a few weeks’ time.




“This year I’m mostly doing it for the money, for college,” said McKenzie, as she prepared bedding for Jumal’s pen.

One particularly important element of the process is making sure that the goats have fresh water, as they have been known to reject otherwise satisfactory water, she said.

The process of raising goats for so many years has taught McKenzie the importance of patience, as well as a strong sense of personal responsibility.

She feeds the goats twice a day, in addition to maintaining their health and preparing them for the fair.

For fair day, the goats must have as much muscle as possible, so monitoring the amount and type of food they get is essential, said McKenzie.

“What I do is I put their food up high so that they have to jump up, which engages their muscles,” she explained.

The experience of raising goats for so long has tempered any desire of getting a dog in college, says McKenzie.

The firsthand experience of raising an animal, with all of the many responsibilities and time required of the task, has been more than enough.

For showmanship — a category that displays not just the goat but also the skill of the handler — knowledge of goats and how to present them is essential.

Emma Lawless and her two sisters are bringing a total of 12 goats to the fair this year, but having raised goats since she was only 6, the 15-year-old Lawless is up to the task.

Lawless has spent considerable time and effort preparing her goats for the event.

One skill in particular that has benefited her is a knowledge of animal science, which her mother majored in, said Lawless.

One tricky part of the showmanship competition is being able to answer trivia questions.

One such fact Lawless has learned? The ideal temperature for a goat is 101-103 degrees.

“I’ve been asked where the breed of animal originated; a lot of goats originated in Africa,” said Lawless.

Kael Newton is a journalism student at the University of Oregon interning with The Union; he can be reached at NCPCIntern@theunion.com.


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