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Everyone turns out for the Goshen Fair

GOSHEN — For many of the young people showing cows and other livestock at the Goshen Fair, the most exciting part is sleeping in the barn. Around 175 cows and 60 exhibitors from Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts entered the dairy cow contest this year, and 40 to 50 of them planned to spend the three nights of the fair in the barn.“The kids like to sleep right in these bales of hay,” said Doug Carlson of North Canaan, one of the organizers of the dairy show. “When I was a little boy, six or eight of us used to sleep over there” — he pointed to where a cage of electrical equipment now stands at one end of the barn — “in sleeping bags on the dirt floor.”Carlson said he’s been coming to the Goshen Fair for 65 years. His mother and father showed in 4-H when they were young as well. In fact, Carlson said, his parents met at a Litchfield County 4-H fair.His daughter, Sandy Boardman of North Canaan, also helps organize the dairy barn, and has for 15 years. She said this is the first year her daughters, who are in college now, haven’t been exhibitors.“This is like a vacation for us,” she said.Erin Hubbard of Goshen, a fellow committee member, chimed in, “This is the first time I’ve seen the two of them sit down.”In addition to ensuring the younger exhibitors follow the rules of the barn, Carlson is the announcer for the dairy competition. He does it every year, he said.“He educates the crowd about the breeds,” said Hubbard. “He’s a great wealth of knowledge.”Boardman said it takes about a month to get all the information the exhibitors must submit organized and to plan the competitions. Young farmers, mostly, compete in novice, junior, intermediate and senior levels. Each division awards a trophy.On Saturday, the exhibitors compete in showmanship, which includes demonstrating knowledge and handling of their breed. On Sunday and Monday, the animals compete within their breeds.One of the younger competitors this year was Austin Reid of Salisbury. The 7-year-old entered two cows that he cares for himself.Kristie Laverdidre of Granby was one of the older exhibitors. She is a junior at the State University of New York at Cobbleskill, majoring in agriculture business.“I’ve been showing cows since I was 8,” she said. “I just like to do it.”While the barn was bustling with cows and people, Boardman said participation is down this year.“It could be the hurricane,” she said. “Or it could just be finances on the farm.”But as Boardman and Carlson can attest, dairy breeders come back year after year. Carlson was already looking ahead to next year. He said he likes to keep his eyes open and listen to people for ways they can improve the competition each year.“You start this year for next year,” he said.

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