Arizona State Fair: Judging the Goats
Sure, the Arizona State Fair is full of fun rides, greasy food and some of the best people watching around. But, for a moment let's return to a "Charlotte's Web" sort of agricultural era, where the State Fair was about judging animals, food, and animals that make or become food. We spoke with certified USBGA Boer goat judge and Indiana resident Blakely Clements to find out more about what it takes to be in the ring at the fair.
Arizona State Fair Blakely Clements presenting the ribbon for the Grand Champion Doe (Boer Goat) at the State Fair.
Blakely Clements, 31, is a former 4H-er and first time Arizona State Fair judge for the open class of boer goats. Clements has been judging since 2001 and earned his license in 2010 He and his business partner also run B & B Show Stock in Bedford Indiana. There are essentially four divisions of goats and they are separated by purebred does, purebred bucks, meat goats and mixed goats, or goats that have mixed blood and are not full blooded descendants of the breed as it originated in South Africa.
The open category at our fair allows nearly anyone with a registered animal. This includes individuals, farmers and 4H participants. Unlike 4H, the open boer goat category only judges the animal, not the showman ship of the exhibitor. Although, often the judge will ask the exhibitor questions about weight and how the animal was bred and its lineage. There is typically a necessary amount of entries (10) in each category to make it sanctioned show.
There's a score card and general appearance account for up to 60 points. This is "somewhat of a preference," says Clements. In the purebred categories especially, he's looking at face and body shape and how it relates to the first boer goats from South Africa. Boer goats were first introduced to the US in the mid 1990s and were very expensive at that time.
Now, Clements says, there's a more diverse offering of animals for purchase. And prices vary by what the animal will be used for (meat, breeding or show) and its lineage. A market animal for consumption might run between $85 and $200. While animals for 4H kids might run $200 to $400 and high end breeding or show goats and sell from $500 to several thousand dollars. Recently, he says, a doe sold for $32,000, and of course around specific holidays, like Easter, meat goats are more in demand. "The product is what we're judging, the majority are show animals and are used for breeding stock purposes."