Long before the games at the carnival are set up at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds, kids from across the valley line up for a different type of fun and competition.
As vendors busily worked to set up their booths on Monday morning, goat judging was already underway at the Applebury Arena. Kids in freshly-pressed white shirts led their mini LaManchas through the arena as adults nearby inspected and lent words of encouragement to the youngsters.
Lyndell Zito, 6, of Hamilton and Ruby Walz, 10, of Corvallis both took their turns in the arena Monday morning, and despite their young ages, this isn’t their first rodeo, so to speak.
13-year-old Natalya Boswell’s goat enjoys a blow dry before the Open Boer Competition at the 2023 Ravalli County Fair.
Zito first started learning to show animals when she was 2 years old. She has four goats; Elsa, Anna, Ariel and Blessing.
“Elsa always pays attention and she always stays still next to my side,” Zito said. “And with Blessing, she always just knows what direction to turn or keep on going.”