This year marked the 99th consecutive Tri-County Fair in Petersburg. Although it remains small, it is well attended and served by local residents in Grant, Hardy, and Pendleton Counties. Once again, we participated extensively in the fair, serving as the Pendleton County judge for the parade, working several meal shifts at the Lions Club food booth, and exhibiting many of our farm products. We submitted a total of 13 products for judging this year, as opposed to our 11 entries last year, and we actually received more ribbons. Where we had earned a total of 8 ribbons in 2018, we garnered a total of 11 this year. Barb’s Carpenter’s Wheel lap quilt—made with goat-print fabric—not only received a second-place ribbon, it also won the People’s Choice award—perhaps a strong reflection of the growing local interest in raising goats. Our exhibits earned a total of five blue (first place) ribbons, including Barb’s quilted WVU Table Runner, and our canned Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage, Bell Peppers, Wax Beans, and Carrots. All in all, it was another banner year for Peeper Pond Farm at the Tri-County Fair.
I have wanted to bring our dairy goats to the fair for people to see, but we weren’t able to do so in either 2017 or 2019, the two years that we have owned them during the fair season. We were busy trying to save Gertie from the Meningeal Worm infection that eventually killed her in 2017, and I am still working with our new kid goat, Snowball, to help her make the adjustment to our farm this year. We still struggle to earn her trust and to get her adjusted to a regular bottle-feeding schedule. She is still not eating as well as we would like to see her, but we are encouraged by the fact she gained one pound and twelve ounces of body weight during her first week in our care. She is still very small for her age, weighing in at only six pounds and fourteen ounces at one month old, but are optimistic about her chances to do better in the coming months. Once we can get her weaned from kid formula, we can work on earning her trust. When we received her on July 25, she had never been in the presence of humans, so she acts more like a wild goat than a domestic animal. This has been the source of our problems working with her in an unfamiliar environment separated from her mother.
Overall, all of our friends appeared to enjoy the fair this year. I was impressed by the growing number of goat farms that have been represented at the goat judging competitions in recent years. Many local farmers are discovering that prices for market (meat) goats is growing and becoming strong in our area. Even one of our neighbors has expressed interest in buying some market goats to raise next year. Goat meat is a healthy choice for many people because it tends to be very lean. We were given some goat hamburger from a friend three years ago and discovered that we had to mix an egg in it when grilling goat burgers because the meat is so lean that they crumble easily without a binder to hold them together. When seasoned, goat burgers actually taste no different from regular cow meat hamburgers, even though they have lower overall fat levels.
While we enjoyed our participation in the 2019 Tri-County Fair, we are relieved that it is over. It is a challenge to manage our small farm when dedicating so many hours to the fair. Fortunately, we served many of our local friends and Farmers Market patrons as they visited the Lions Club booth. It is good to see the friendly faces that make our community so enchanting. Perhaps, during the 100th anniversary fair next year, we can exhibit our Essie and Snowball to help introduce local farmers to dairy goats. However, for the time being, we are looking forward more immediately to the State Fair (which we plan to attend on August 14) and the Treasure Mountain Festival coming up on the third weekend in September. It’s the festival time of the year, and we like to attend as many as we can. Hopefully, we’ll see you at one of them or at our remaining Farmers Market appearances. We hope you will enjoy the remaining summer weather. Please make the most of it outdoors in the fresh air.