FARMINGTON — After a year of hard work and dedication, young 4-H members showed their dairy goats to an appreciative audience at Farmington Fair on Friday afternoon.

The show began with a moving tribute to the late Dr. Sandy Griswold, who died earlier this spring. She and her partner, Sally Peniuk, owned a goat farm in New Sharon and volunteered many hours over many years to the 4-H dairy goat shows. The youths at the show presented Peniuk with a poster covered with photos of past years’ participants.

“She engaged us according to our learning abilities,” Doe-C-Doe 4-H Club member Katherine Blauvelt said as she wiped away tears. “She always made us feel comfortable.”

Cassidy Leeman, 15, a member of Creative Kids 4-H in Etna, has become an experienced dairy goat exhibitor, with five years of championship wins under her belt. She and her LaMancha doe will head to The Big E agricultural fair in Springfield, Massachusetts.

“I had to compete at the Bangor fair to be eligible to go to The Big E,” she said. “I go to most all of the fairs, though.”

The Massachusetts competition offers 4-H clubs from several states the opportunity to represent their state. Cassidy and her family also have a farm with 23 goats, and they make and sell goat milk soaps and lotions.

This year’s show introduced the participants to a new judge, Abby Schofield, owner of Valley’s Edge dairy goat farm in Strong. She said she was happy to be asked to do the job this year. Schofield had known Griswold and Peniuk for many years, and they were her mentor.

Schofield had specific questions for each exhibitor.

“I like to see that kids have worked with their animals,” including the day-to-day feeding, milking and other chores the animal requires, she said. “Some may not have the prettiest or perfect animal, but they know the parts of the goat and what its best qualities and strengths are.”

Some children show goats that belong to their parents, and they may not know much about the animal. She seeks out 4-H members who have actually worked with their animals, she said. 

“I like to see kids who are having a hard time learn to stay cool when the animal isn’t behaving,” she said.

When a goat is misbehaving, she said she will give a more-experienced competitor the responsibility for the animal, which can help everyone learn how to handle a difficult situation.

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