Members of 4-H youth program show off silly side by dressing up animals they are learning to raise, take care of

Justice -- a miniature Nigerian dwarf goat -- was born on the Fourth of July last year, so it was only fitting that her owner, Aedra Hausrath, 7, dressed her in a red, white and blue Wonder Woman costume Sunday for their debut at the Clark County Fair's annual Goat Dress-Up and Parade.

Wonder Woman may be the queen of the Amazons, but the feminist icon is American-made, and her costume is undoubtedly reminiscent of the American flag.

"I like to think of the goat parade as kind of like herding cats," said Sheila Stuhlsatz, leader of the Udderly Goatesque 4-H Club.

The dress-up parade was just one of the imaginative 4-H goat events at the fair Sunday.

4-H students and their goats participated in a cracker-eating contest, a goat grooming contest and a goat calling contest. The popular goat pop bottle milking contest was canceled this year.

"In the cracker-eating contest, we'll have kids eat two to three crackers, and the goat eat two to three crackers," said Suzanne Rogers, 4-H pygmy goat superintendent. "Whoever finishes first with a clean mouth wins."

At the dress-up parade, Justice and Aedra were part of a procession of other children with goats decked out as princesses, cheerleaders or superheroes.

One kid -- the goat kind -- was dressed up as an infant. Zoey Scott, 9, of Battle Ground said she got the idea from last year's parade, when she forgot to bring a costume for her goat. Her mother, Jolene, let Zoey borrow a onesie from Zoey's baby sister, and Zoey dressed her goat in the onesie. This year, Zoey used that theme again, dressing her kid in a denim baby dress and toting the animal around in a baby carrier strapped to her chest.

"Shush, little baby," she crooned.

Justice was, in fact, the inspiration for Aedra and her 6-year-old sister, Maya, to join the 4-H youth development organization. They met Justice at the fair when she was less than 4 months old. The girls were immediately smitten with her, said their mother, Linda Hayes.

"I thought she was beautiful," Aedra said.

Since then, the girls have been caring for her and a Pygmy goat named Jade at their home in north Clark County.

"It's really fun because she leaps all over the place, and she plays with Jade," Aedra said.

In addition to the parade, Aedra and Maya took part in their first showmanship event. It involved leading their goats and having them walk in a circle, not an easy task given goats' notorious stubbornness. Aedra said she was nervous before the event.

"It's a little hard because I'm a first-timer, but sometimes, it's really fun."

Her mother said 4-H participation is valuable because it boosts children's self-esteem, confidence and leadership skills.

"It teaches them responsibility and the importance of an animal depending on them," she said.

More quirky goat contests set for Tuesday include a goat quiz bowl at 9 a.m. and an "Amazing Goat Race" at 1 p.m.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; twitter.com/Col_Courts; facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.

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