Young farmers shine at fair

BEDFORD — With her head secured in a harness, Sally, an 8-month-old boer goat walked along a dirt arena at the Bedford County Fair, staying close to her 11-year-old owner, Teagan Imler.

It was Teagan’s first time participating in the goat competition at the annual county fair.

“I had lots of fun and I think I did really good,” Teagan said about his performance in the competition.

He competed in the fair event with his younger brother, Josten, 9. Both of them raised their goats, Sally and Jessie, and will auction them off Saturday.

“I really don’t want Saturday to come. I kind of just want to skip to Sunday,” Josten said, knowing it would be the last time he would see Jessie.

Their parents, Bryan and Crystal, are pig farmers in Everett and recently started trying to raise goats. The family has been attending the fair for years.

Teagan’s father, Bryan, built a metal brace for his son, who was born with Duchenne Muscular Dys­trophy. Doctors diagnosed Teagan with DMD when he was 6 years old.

He lost the ability to walk in March 2017, when he turned 10 years old.

“This year was a bit different for us because of Teagan being in his wheelchair,” Crystal said. “We’re still learning how to adapt so both of our kids can show.”

“We’ll do anything. We’ll adapt to anything so he can do whatever he wants to do,” she added.

Although nervous prior to the competition, Teagan said he loved showing off his goat during the fair.

The county fair has been going on for more than 145 years, according to its website.

Jim Edwards, county fair president, described the fair as a “family tradition” event to promote agriculture and tourism. He said this year’s fair consisted of many fourth-generation participants from farming families.

Roberta Foor, a leader for Chapman’s Run 4-H Club, attended the fair to support her three grandchildren and club members.

“I like to see the kids come out and compete,” Foor said. “I told them whether they win or lose, go out there and have a good time.”

“They learn sportsmanship. They learn responsibility. And in the end, they learn whether they made a profit or a loss on their animal. So it’s a learning experience for all of them,” she added.

Livestock competition participants, who range in age from 8 to 21 years old, are responsible for buying their animals and any costs associated with their care.

Participants track expenses of raising their livestock in a project book and then put their animals on the market, according to Foor. It will be the last time many participants see their livestock because many of the animals are sent to slaughterhouses.

The county fair includes a wide range of activities, including multiple exhibits, a petting zoo, midway rides and other animal showmanship events.

Bob Stanton, a dairy farmer in Everett, said he has been participating in the fair for decades, showing cows, lambs and pigs in past years. He brought one of his Brown Swiss cows, Socko, for judging this year.

Stanton said he enjoys coming to the community fair and earning “bragging rights” with the livestock he shows. He added that the fair is a good educational opportunity for attendees.

“The public needs to be educated,” he said. “They don’t really know what goes on in a dairy farmer’s life.”

In spite of the rainy weather, many of the fair’s festivities will continue throughout the week. The carnival rides will close if there is a heavy downpour or thunder, Edwards said.

Demolition derbies were canceled Tuesday due to track and infield conditions. They have been rescheduled for Thursday and Saturday.

Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan is at 946-7457.