August 30, 2006 | By: Carol Lea Spence

Stefan Fink wasn’t thinking about making history when he brought his goats to this year’s Kentucky State Fair. But history was made, when his Supreme Champion goat was auctioned off during the 4-H/FFA Sale of Champions.

Market goats are fairly recent additions to the state fair, having been shown only since 2004. This, however, was the first time since the Sale of Champions began in 1980 that the auction included the Supreme Champion and Reserve Grand Champion market goats in the usual slate of market steers, hogs and lambs. The inclusion reflects a growing trend in the state.

“Our numbers almost doubled last year as far as our 4-H projects here in Clark County,” said Roy Turley, a University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service agent in Stefan’s home county. “We’re already seeing a growing interest in it for next year and it’s not even that time yet. We won’t really get geared up until we have our first livestock meeting, which will be in November.”

According to Chris Caudill, of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and goat superintendent at the fair, the goat industry is growing all over the state.

“We’re one of the top states as far as boer goat breeders are concerned,” said Caudill, who believes that has contributed to the rise in the number of goats shown at the fair by members of 4-H and FFA. 

“It’s become a popular youth project for the simple fact you don’t have to have a farm to show market goats,” he said. “A kid can take on a goat project and work that project a lot easier than a steer or a beef heifer or dairy cow. It could even be a city kid for that matter. A lot of these goat exhibitors are nonagriculturalists. I’ve found that very unique.”

Turley, the Clark County Extension agent, attributes the interest among 4-H’ers to both the compact size of the animal and the fact that there’s not a lot of expense involved.

“It doesn’t take a lot of feed. It doesn’t take a lot of housing. It doesn’t take a lot of medicines to apply to the animal, as compared to a horse or a big cow or a steer,” he said. 

Stefan, 12, isn’t a newcomer to livestock. He’s been working with sheep in 4-H “since I started walking,” and got interested goats five years ago. He said he finds goats particularly appealing, in part because of their personalities.

“I just like showing them. They try to talk to you and they can’t,” he said. “They follow you around and they want to be petted.”

This year’s inaugural Supreme Champion and Reserve Grand Champion market goats also had another distinction. They were shown by family members. Stefan’s first cousin, Jaclyn Farris, 18, a freshman in the UK College of Agriculture, won Reserve Grand Champion with her 73-pound goat. Continuing the family tradition in another category, Farris’ younger sister, Jayme, 15, had the Reserve Grand Champion market lamb during the sale. And Stefan’s younger sister, Allison, 6, had the Reserve Champion novice goat. Novice winners are not included in the Sale of Champions.

The Finks and the Farrises “are top-notch families,” Caudill said. “They really know how to show their animals. The kids are very much involved in projects. When I think of livestock exhibitors in Kentucky, they are very experienced and very knowledgeable in what they’re doing. They have it down to a fine art.”

Stefan’s 79-pound Supreme Champion goat, a boer cross, brought $6,000 during the auction. Ron and Lynn Carmicle and Tom Schifano (Arison Insurance Services) had the winning bid. Farris’ Reserve Grand Champion goat brought $5,000 from the Kentucky Goat Producers Association, Hayward Spinks and BASF. 

“You couldn’t ask for a better price for the first time,” Caudill said. “That’s a respectable price for both of them and that will continue to go up in the future.”

Stefan was happy with the outcome of the sale.

“It was exciting. We bought the goat for $300 and it went for $6,000,” he said. “I got 60 percent of that, which was $3,600, so it paid for the other ones, too,” meaning the other three goats he brought to the fair. He also took home the third and fourth prize awards in two other classes of market goats.

To cap a perfect evening, Stefan had his picture taken with Rachelle Phillips, Miss Kentucky 2006.

“The only picture she was in was the goat picture,” he said.


Roy Turley, 859-744-4682, Chris Caudill, 502-564-4983