It is rumored that most schools have a short ‘Fall break’ in October due to the North Carolina State Fair.
Granted it might not be true, but with record-level attendance this year in Raleigh and school children showing in everything from art to vegetables to livestock there might be some truth behind it.
For one Neuse Charter School family the state fair is no time to ‘kid’ around…or maybe it is.
For elementary students Tanner and Mallori Woodard the N.C. State Fair is a not only a time to have fun, but it is also the culmination of a year of hard work.
Tanner, a fourth-grader in Ms. Wellbrook’s class, and Mallori, a kindergartener in Ms. Brittain’s class, are pros at raising and showing goats.
Lori Woodard, mother to the two young Woodards, said that the goats keep the children busy from sun-up to sun-down. “They walk the goats, teaching them to walk with a halter. They wash, brush, feed and make sure they have clean water,” she said.
Mallori and Tanner have animals all around them with goats, cows, chickens and cats at their house, but they’ve been showing goats since they were ages 4 and 3 respectively.
Lori said that during show season the children will work the goats three times a week preparing them for competitions.Tanner and Mallori are used to the hard jobs that go along with raising barnyard animals too. They wash the animals weekly and clean out pens every other week.
“It teaches them a lot of responsibility because they have to take care of another living thing,” said Lori. “They have to make sure they have food and water and a clean pen. If the animal gets sick we have to figure how to make them better.”
Even though the fair is fun with lots of rides, food and the excitement of being out of school to show their animals, it isn’t without its heartbreak either. Not heartbreak from not winning as both children received showmanship pins and Mallori placed 2nd in her class with her senior doe, but heartbreak from saying good-bye to an animal that has been a part of their lives.
While Tanner and Mallori were able to have their goats return home with them this year, this isn’t always the case.
“This year they came home with us because they are females and they will be mommas now, but the males are usually sold,” said Lori. “It is difficult to let the animals go because they become attached to them.”
Tanner said, “I like showing the animals because I feel like I have accomplished something important.”
And paid off it did as both Tanner and Mallori ranked 9th and 10th in the novice division of the eastern Carolina goat circuit this year.
“I feel relieved that all my hard work has paid off,” said Tanner.