Chatfield youth grateful for support, success found at state fair

Payton Guenther shows off his Minnesota State Fair purple ribbon win plaque for the goat he took to the fair, while a doe takes advantage of the opportunity to nibble on his sleeve. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
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It must’ve been purple ribbon “wether” last month.

“I took my dairy market wether, and at the county fair, he did all right, got second or third in his class, fourth overall in the lineup,” said Root River Rabbits 4-H member Payton Guenther, recounting his successful showing efforts at the Fillmore County fair’s goat show in July. He earned the right to show his goat at the Minnesota State Fair in August and garnered a place in the purple ribbon auction for the first time, along with second in class and reserve champion overall in his class.

Guenther is a freshman at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), majoring in agribusiness. He has spent the past seven or eight years in 4-H, and though he’s not entirely certain how many years he’s been a member, he has shown goats most of that time.

“It was way back when Rodney (Coe) came over and I filled out the paperwork to get my goat, Fred, and it expanded from there,” he said. “I think out of the six years I’ve gone to the fair, at least four of those years, I’ve taken a goat. I have taken a pig once or twice, though. Goats have been the main target.”

Showing his county fair entries took practice and garnered him some show ring experience that has proven itself invaluable.

However, the real work of raising and training a show goat starts long before the goat even takes its first breath. Guenther has his eye on the lines and stance of a doe in the farmyard, deciding whether she’ll produce kids that have just what the judges are looking to award ribbons and state fair trips.

His state fair goat, of course, was sold on the purple ribbon auction alongside the only other dairy market wether — a first time the auction has taken two dairy market wethers — but he has chosen the doe that produced his award-winning wether as the source of his prospective 2019 county fair pick.

“I’ve learned how to raise a good show animal,” he said. “It’s too far yet — next year — to start thinking about the next county fair. But it will definitely be out of the same line, because every year, I’ve taken a goat out of the same line.”

His father, Monte, pointed out that competition at the county fair is rather stiff because Fillmore County is known for its livestock shows. “Fillmore County is very competitive in dairy wethers, and so we weren’t sure we’d even get out of the county fair to begin with,” he said. “This was the first year that the purple ribbon auction has taken two dairy wethers, and they took eight goats this year. That’s the most they’ve ever taken with all market species represented in it. Fillmore County had two goats and two pigs.”

Payton hopes that with the coming spring, he’ll have a new kid to show at the county fair, his final year as a 4-H member. “If things keep going like this, it should go good,” he said. “I guess when I got reserve champion overall, I was really surprised, but the judge liked my goat more, I guess. I looked forward to competing with Marshall Johnson from Rushford one last time and finishing reserve champion, getting into the purple ribbon auction. I’m still shooting for overall champion.”

Payton and his father extended their appreciation to the Chatfield community for the support they have received as a family entering goats in county and state shows, as Monte remarked, “Once you get in, the real work begins of finding sponsors. We’re pretty grateful to the community of Chatfield for supporting his accomplishments.”