Kidding around

Jeffrey Stearns (left) and his brother Leo pose with one of their award-winning goats at the Spartansburg Fair. The boys, just six and three, respectively, are part of a family that has been showing the animals for years.

SPARTANSBURG — The Stearns have a big family. There are the young ones, Jeffrey and Leo, the aunts and uncles, the grandparents — they’re a close-knit bunch.

The family size really balloons when you add in their goats, who they consider part of the family.

The Stearns had a good week at the Spartansburg Community Fair this week, winning lots of awards and ribbons.

When it comes to the competitions, the goats are usually the second thing noticed by the audience.

Exhibiting the animals, which are pygmy and pygmy/ Nigerian Dwarf crosses, are Jeffrey and Leo, ages six and three, respectively.

The youngsters are far from inexperienced, as  Jeffrey has been showing since he was two-years-old.

The Stearns have a small family farm in Grand Valley. While they have working animals, the obsession with their pets started when Grandma Stearns, Pat, the boys great-grandmother, bought their Aunt Jocelyn her first goat when she was three.

To continue the family tradition, their Grandmother Sylvia bought Jeffrey his first goat when he was two.

Since Pat first bought that first goat, the family has fallen in love with them ever since.

“We’ve had goats ever since,” said Jocelyn, the boys’ aunt who is the one that teaches them how to take care of the animals, “They’re more fun. They will follow you around and play with you.”

The family goats even go down the slide made for the kids.

“We like the looks of them and the size,” said Jocelyn, which she says makes them the perfect pets.

The goats aren’t just pets, they are also award winners. Jeffrey has 10 goats of his own. He brought eight of them to the fair to compete.

Even though he is only six-years-old, he has been showing animals at fairs since he was two. This was his brother Leo’s first time showing.

Leo was planning on making his debut at two like his brother, but the canceled fair last year took that possibility away.

This year the two won first place for both the Pygmee class and the “other” class where the Nigerian Dwarf mix goats competed. The goats also won grand champion.

“I got some ribbons this year,” said Jeffrey when asked how he did.

The Stearns boys competed in the meat goat competitions. For meat goats, according to Jocelyn, “It is all about the composure.”

Composure for goats is all about how they are built. You want to see nice big chests.

While the weekend was almost all smiles for the Stearns family, there was one incident that left Jeffrey a little upset.

During one of the meat goat competitions, the judge mentioned to Jeffrey that his goat looked great, and would probably be delicious to eat.

“No, you can’t eat them,” said Jeffrey to the judge.

While most competitors at the fair are there to show off their impressive farm animals, that just isn’t what the Stearns are all about.

This year saw the boys expand their skills. Not only did they compete in the showmanship competition, they also showed a calf.

The ribbons are a nice cherry on top for the boys, but really they just love being out there with the animals.

They play with the animals at home. Every goat has toys with them wherever they go, and now the Stearns boys are playing with their goats at the fair, and taking home some impressive victories.

Dvorkin can be reached by email at

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