This marks Sarah Rehmeyer’s third year coming to Grand Island from her family farm near Airville, Pa., for the 25th annual National American Boer Goat Association Show. Rehmeyer joins more than 2,000 visitors who have gathered for the Grand Island show.
This is the sixth year Grand Island has hosted the national show, and it will return next year.
Rehmeyer said she looks forward to coming to Grand Island with her Boer goats for the national competition.
“I like coming here to see all my friends and to be able to show some more,” she said.
Like for many of the exhibitors, Rehmeyer, 15, said coming to Grand Island for the national show is like a family vacation. She is here with her mom and friends from Pennsylvania. Her family operates the Southern Hollow Boer Goat Ranch in the Airville area, which is near Maryland.
Rehmeyer said her parents have been members of the American Boer Goat Association for six years. This is her fourth year as a junior member. The junior show takes place through Tuesday, with the open show on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Like many of the youths at the junior Boer goat show, Rehmeyer got her start raising goats as a 4-H’er, beginning when she was 6 years old.
“It just evolved with that,” she said.
Rehmeyer took to raising Boer goats immediately as a young 4-Her. Goats are a great project for 4-H’ers to get involved in livestock, as they are docile and easy to care for, compared to a larger animal.
“I really fell in love with them,” she said. “The Boer goats really stood out just because of the way they look.”
Rehmeyer also said it is a great way to learn responsibility. Taking care of an animal is an everyday concern as it needs to be fed, watered and exercised. For the junior members, it is also about developing a relationship through being paired with each other in the show ring.
“A lot of it is learning to be responsible and even managing your money with 4-H and what not,” she said. “It is also learning about what agriculture is and what it really involves.”
Coming to the national show is a valuable learning experience, Rehmeyer said.
“There are a lot of tips of how to show your animal, the experience of looking at everyone’s stock and comparing them and seeing how you can improve your animal,” she said.
Lary Duncan of San Angelo, Texas, is the CEO of the American Boer Goat Association.
Duncan said one of the reasons that the show has been in Grand Island for six years is its central location in the U.S. But the Grand Island facility is also large enough to handle several thousand goats. This year’s show has more than 2,200 entries between the junior and open events.
“We have goats from all corners of the United States here,” he said.
The Fonner Park facilities are among the premiere national livestock show arenas in the nation. Next week, the facility will be host to the Red Angus National Show. Some of the participants at this year’s Boer goat show will also return for the Nebraska State Fair and the Aksarben 4-H Stock Show in September.
Along with the American Boer Goat Association coming back next year, there will also be a national dairy goat competition at the facility — making Grand Island the goat capital of the U.S. next year, with more than 5,000 goats competing.
“It is a nice facility,” Duncan said.
He said youth participation in the American Boer Goat Association is increasing. Many of the nearly 400 youth participants at this year’s show have their roots in 4-H raising goats. Like with 4-H, raising goats is also a livestock project in which urban area kids can get involved.
While Nebraska is the Beef State, meat goats are the world’s most-consumed meat and make up 70% of the red meat eaten globally. The popularity of goat meat is growing in the U.S.
Duncan said the U.S. has to import goat meat to meet the growing demands in this country. Australia is the leading supplier of goat meat to the U.S. Last year saw a 38% increase in goat meat exports from Australia to the U.S.
“The United States has way more demand than they can supply,” he said. “About 50% of the product that is consumed in the U.S. is imported annually. We can’t meet the demand in the United States.”
For many of these young goat exhibitors, their future could be raising goats as a meat product to meet increasing domestic demand, Duncan said.
Alexy Terry, 17, of Molalla, Ore., is another youth exhibitor here for the national show.
Terry was in Grand Island for the national show last year as well. She has been raising goats for eight years. She also started out raising goats as a 4-H’er, and raising the livestock is also a family enterprise.
She listed responsibility and developing a good work ethic among the most important things she has learned from raising and showing Boer goats.
“I love showing and taking care of them,” Terry said. “They have great personalities. It has helped me grow as a person, especially when it comes to working with others.”
To learn more about the American Boer Goat Association and the Grand Island show, visit http://abga.org.