Fair hosts goat show for children with special needs, 4-H members

Emily Bucklew, left, 19, and Hannah Davis, second from right, 15, coach Jazzmin Garcia, 15, second from left, and Camden Drago, 9, as the children place their goats in the show ring during the Bright Stars Goat Show for special needs children Thursday morning at the Frederick County Fair. Rich Cooley/Daily

CLEAR BROOK – The Frederick County Fair hosted The Bright Stars Goat Show on Thursday, pairing young 4-H members and children with special needs to present their goats to a judge.

Four teams of two children showed off their animals to the judge, Corey Childs. Childs, who has been judging goat shows for 30 years, said he thought the event was a great way to foster new friendships and to introduce children with disabilities to farm animals.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing and I’d like to see it recreated everywhere,” he said. “… Now you have three new friendships that weren’t here yesterday.

The stars of the show, Jazzmin Garcia, 15; Hayley Ramey, 15; Camdyn Drago, 9; and Savanna Turner, 9, paired up to walk their goats around the pen with Emily Bucklew, 19; Berkeley Frank, 14; and Hannah Davis, 15.

Kyley Clevenger, lamb chairperson for the fair, was in charge of putting the event together. She said she was happy to see children with special needs get to interact with goats and horses, an opportunity they see less of than some of their peers.

Camdyn Drago, 9, holds his goat after the showmanship competition Thursday morning. Rich Cooley/Daily

“As soon as Camdyn saw the horses outside, his face just lit up,” Clevenger said. “He was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’ve never seen one in real life!'”

The children, some of whom looked even more content than their goats in the midst of a chin scratching, collectively agreed it was fun playing with new friends and new animals alike.

“Meeting goats was my favorite part,” Hayley said after the show.

Hannah, a 4-H member who presented her goat with Camdyn, said her favorite part of the event was watching her partner learn to work with the animals. Emily, on the other hand, said Jazzmin picked it up quickly.

“Jazzmin was doing it all on her own,” she said. “I didn’t have to do any of the work, I was on vacation.”

Corey Childs, left, unit coordinator for the Virginia Cooperative extension, speaks with Hayley Ramey, 15, right, as she shows her goat during the Bright Stars Goat Show on Thursday morning at the Frederick County Fairgrounds. At center is Berkeley Frank, 14, who coached Haley during the show. Rich Cooley/Daily

Kim Black, an agriculture teacher at Robert E. Aylor Middle School in Stephens City, said events like The Bright Stars Goat Show are growing across the country, which is great because due to the laborious nature of agriculture work, children with special needs often do not get the opportunity to encounter it firsthand.

“It’s empowering for them to go out and do it on their own,” she said.

Although the fair is ongoing, many in attendance are already looking forward to next year’s show and thinking of ways to get more kids involved. Alongside watching her own children present, Shelley Turner said she talked to Clevenger about finding ways to get the word out to draw more participants in 2017.

Likewise, Childs said he hopes to judge more events of similar character throughout the region.

“I’d like to see this recreated in every neighboring town and county,” he said.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com