Two young men and a white and brown goat posing for a picture before a Georgia National Fair backdrop.
Timothy and Dustin show off JellyBean’s 7th place ribbon. Photo by Lynn Brecht

Heather Haines, 4-H Agent, UGA Extension Forsyth County

The Georgia National Fair Livestock Shows are hosted annually in Perry, Georgia, at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter. The show ring can teach several life lessons and introduces youth to competition at a young age. Youth can begin showing certain animal breeds with 4-H when they are in first grade. Healthy competition teaches young people resilience and perseverance which prepares them for real life situations. Exhibiting livestock also teaches youth the importance of sportsmanship. They learn at an early age how to win and lose gracefully. Aside from competing against others, showing livestock teaches youth how to be internal competitors with themselves. They focus on making their animals better than they were the day before, which challenges youth to become better versions of themselves.

Additionally, growing up around livestock animals helps youth build a solid foundation of values. The animals give the exhibitors a reason to wake up every morning knowing that there is another life reliant on them. Through the long hours, young people learn the value of hard work and how it helps them achieve their long-term goals. The one-on-one time young people spend with their livestock also teaches them how to be compassionate. Youth learn to respect their animals, which motivates them to provide the best care possible. The relationships youth build with their livestock will help them mature and create meaningful connections with others.

Finally, and maybe the most compelling argument to get youth into livestock showing, is that it really is a family affair. Raising, working with, and preparing animals for the showring takes hours of work. Families grow closer together as they work alongside each other every day. Truly, the time that is spent together is special.

A young man is grooming a brown and white goat in preparation for a livestock show.
Timothy prepares his goat for the show by blow drying its hair. Grooming helps judges evaluate show animals accurately. Photo by Lynn Brecht

In October, two youth and their families traveled to Perry, Georgia to compete with their goats in the Georgia National Fair Livestock Shows. Timothy Laszlo and Dustin Thomas competed with their goats in the Junior Market Showmanship Show and Market Goat Shows. The team is coached by Certified Volunteer Leader Lynn Brecht.

At the State Market Goat Show, youth have the opportunity to show both does (females) and wethers (males) in various weight and showmanship classes. This year’s show was quite competitive! Timothy Laszlo and Apple, his wether, received eighth place in their weight class. Timothy also showed a doe named Pumpkin and came in eleventh place in his wight class and tenth place in the showmanship class. Dustin showed a white doe named JellyBean and came in seventh place for weight and tenth place for showmanship. If you are interested in attending the next state show, make sure you have your calendar marked for February 21-24, 2024! Georgia 4-H expands horizons for its members and encourages them to be productive citizens in the world around them via various STEM programs held throughout the year.

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