Thirty minutes before the Howard County goat show Monday night, goats looked around curiously in their pens. One attempted to nibble on a foldable chair. Another put its front legs up on the bars of its pen and bleated loudly.
Meanwhile, mothers straightened white shirts of 4-H goat showers, and butterflies started fluttering in their stomachs.
It was 9-year-old Addison Conrad's first time showing goats. She had been working with her two goats, Sprinkles and Star, for just three months, but she said it feels like it has been three years.
Sprinkles doesn't like to listen, Conrad said. She got off to a rocky start with her relationship with the goat, but they're doing better now.
“She walks decent, I should say," Conrad said. "But still, she likes to be a pain in the butt now and then.”
Conrad's other goat, Star, wears a tiny pool noodle on top of his head. He likes to eat clothes, so watch out, Conrad said.
“I couldn’t show Star unless I covered his horns," she said. "We tried to numb them off but they’ve come back two times.”
Despite Sprinkles' bad listening skills, she earned a blue ribbon in her class during the show.
According to the American Dairy Goat Association, goat shows may look a lot like beauty pageants for goats but they really are about picking the most "sound, productive type."
This includes reproductive mammory systems for dairy goats, good bone structure and a strong overall body size for the goat's age. It also includes the animal's ability to walk around the enclosure that can sometimes prove to be difficult with some of the more stubborn animals.
Austin Hamblin, 14, has one of these stubborn goats. Her name is Dolly.
“She’s real ornery and sassy," he said. "She does what she wants to do. If she don’t want to do it, you’re not going to make her do it.”
It was Hamblin's first year too. He's shown chickens for three years and just switched to goats. He said his family has never had goats and it's been a learning experience.
“I don’t know a whole lot about what I’m doing, this is more of an observation year for me," he said.
His other goats, Gunner and Febe, both have different personalities as well. Gunner is a bit odd and Febe is docile.
Getting to know goats' personalities is a large part of raising goats and Emma Berry-Thomas' favorite part. Berry-Thomas is 14 and it's her third year of showing goats.
“I just like learning all their personalities, learning more about them, getting to know them better,” she said.
She also shows horses and rabbits and says they all have their own challenges. Berry-Thomas' said her goats, Paige and Ruthie, were the shyest of their goats but Paige was a good milker.
During the show, there were several runaway goats that slipped out of their collars or their handler's hands. Although goats have big personalities, it's just part of the challenge of showing them well.
“You just have to deal with it, mostly,” Conrad said.