BROWNSTOWN

In recent years at the Jackson County Fair, there has been a lot more baaing going on because of the growth in 4-H’ers showing goats.

So much so that the fair board deemed it necessary to look into tearing down the goat barn and building a new one.

The current wood-frame pin barn, which is the oldest livestock facility on the fairgrounds in Brownstown, is about 30-feet-by-70-feet.

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John Schafstall, president of the fair board, said the new barn may be as big as 200-by-72.

When the Mighty Meat Goats 4-H Club started nearly 12 years ago, there were only five members showing 10 goats. Now, there are 50 members with more than 150 goats.

During the past few county fairs, tents have been placed outside the barn to accommodate all of the goats. The barn comfortably holds 75 goats.

Shannon McKeand, club leader of the Mighty Meat Goats, said she expects continued growth in the number of club members and goats.

“Just for the fact that people can house a goat in a smaller area, they can buy an affordable animal, the smaller kids can show a goat and we have the younger generation coming up, so I see it growing,” she said.

Schafstall said when the barn originally was built in the 1930s, it was meant to house horses. Over time, though, horses were moved into a new, larger structure.

At one point, McKeand said there were just dairy goats at the fair, and 4-H’ers were members of the Oh Does Kids 4-H Club.

She said numbers started dwindling because people didn’t have time to milk goats, so some chose to switch to boer goats, which are less time-consuming.

Once Mighty Meat Goats was established, the dairy, boer and myotonic goats were combined into one club.

“For one, goats are a smaller animal. People that don’t have a lot of pasture or land can raise a goat,” McKeand said of the growth in the club. “Two, goats aren’t as expensive when you’re dealing with local fairs. … And I’ve seen kids are less intimidated when they have a 40- or 50-pound animal, not a 1,000-pound steer.”

The club also meets regularly to learn about goats, other livestock and 4-H; participate in workshops; and attend parties.

Sometime after this year’s fair, which runs July 23 to 29, Schafstall said the current barn will be torn down so construction can begin on a new wooden structure.

The fair board has a committee established to look into the cost and review bids. That information is expected to be presented during the next board meeting, set for Monday.

Schafstall said he estimates it will cost between $140,000 and $180,000 and be completed before the winter. It will be built tall enough to where boats and campers can be stored in the winter, which generates money for the fair board. Then it would be ready to house goats during the 2018 fair.

The fair board has some funding in place for the barn, but it also will be seeking donations as it did for the new restroom facility a few years ago.

The Mighty Meat Goats recently hosted one of the four Indiana Boer Goat Classic Summer Show Series at the fairgrounds, drawing around 80 participants and more than 100 goats. The series also features shows at Flora, Hamlet and Bloomington.

Proceeds from concessions, pen fees, a silent auction, a raffle and selling bedding were given to the fair board to help with the new barn project.

“They have worked with us trying to get the funds for a goat barn, and we have tried to help in every way, and that’s why we decided to do this,” McKeand said. “We just want to do our part for them helping us.”

She said the club plans to host the event in the coming years.

“We will still give money back to the fair to help out with the goat barn, improvements on the fairgrounds, whatever we need to do,” McKeand said.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.