By Katie Demeria
FRONT ROYAL -- Kara Plavchan, 11, of Front Royal, said she was nervous about showing her goat, Dancer.
"It's my first year showing," Kara said. "I'm kind of nervous about being in there with the older kids."
But Kara was there when Dancer was born, and helped to bottle feed the goat from the very beginning.
"We have faith in each other," she said.
Kara was one of about 45 participants in the Warren County Fair's 4-H show on Thursday, according to Stacy Swain, 4-H youth development educator.
The goat showmanship division, in which Kara was entered, was the first of three goat categories the participants could enter, the others being market and breeding.
Swain said the Warren County show is the biggest event of the year for 4-H students, who range in age from from 5 to 18.
"A lot of them go on to work in the agriculture industry," Swain said of the participants.
Cassie Smith, 18, of Front Royal, was awarded grand champion in the market lamb category on Thursday. She said she wants to become a veterinary technician, and that 4-H has helped her recognize her goals.
Cassie also showed in the goat showmanship division, but she said she prefers lambs -- they have been her favorite since she started two years ago.
Will Richards, 18, of Bentonville, on the other hand, wants to go into business after attending Virginia Tech. But he said 4-H, which he has been involved with since he was 9 years old, has still been a great help.
"It's a great way to build yourself for the future," Richards said. "You learn how to work hard when you don't want to. It builds character."
Richards was named grand champion in the goat showmanship division. Marcus Smith, 14, of Front Royal, followed Richards with reserve grand champion -- and has only been in 4-H for a year.
"I'm very proud," Marcus said of his goat Hooey. "We did better in the show ring than we did in practice."
And Marcu plans to continue. He said he will come back with "a lot more goats next year."
Heidi Schwartz, 16, of Front Royal, on the other hand, already has several goats. She and her family work Windy Pine Farm, where they keep goat breeds like Nigerian dwarf and Nubian.
Schwartz was preparing for her showmanship class by trimming Deer, a crossbreed goat.
"You want it to be smooth," Schwartz explained as she trimmed Deer's hair. "It's about eye appeal for the judge."
She added that the goats keep her "quite busy" at home. And though she wants to continue working with them, she is not certain about her primary profession yet.
"I do want to keep working with goats, I'm in love with them," she said.
In the final showmanship class, which included the first place winners from the senior, intermediate and junior classes, judge Keagan Clevenger said it was "one of the closer classes I've judged all day."
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org