By Angela Hayes
For The News Report
Well, five Effingham County community leaders sure did Saturday at the Farmers Market in downtown Effingham.
As part of Effingham County Farm Bureau’s centennial celebration, the organization decided to hold a goat milking contest.
“We started looking through old pictures and found they used to sponsor a mayoral milking contest,” explained Julie Stephens, manager of the Effingham Farm Bureau. “And of course, back then, they used cows. But today we’re going to use goats because they are a little more manageable and friendly.”
The goats were supplied by Lynn Wolff, of Gilmore Acres, and all the milk collected will be donated to 4-H members for hog projects. Wolff was there with her daughter, Abigail, readying the goats for the contestants and finishing the milking when they were out of time.
Julie explained the rules.
- Each mayor was given five minutes to milk their goat
- They went in alphabetical order based on the town’s name
- When the time was up, the milk was weighed and the winner was determine by the amount of milk collected
The first participant was Dieterich Village Mayor Brad Hardiek. He had the pleasure of pairing up with a goat named Heaven.
After some miss-squirts, Hardiek managed to get the milk to land in the bucket. This was his first experience milking a goat — or anything for that matter.
“I couldn’t get that left hand to work,” Hardiek said after his run.
He must have figured something out, because he was able to collect 15 ounces by the end of the five minutes.
Next, Mayor Jeff Bloemker of Effingham, made his way to the milking stand to meet his partner Journey.
It seemed his strategy for winning was sweet talking the cloven hoofed girl.
“Are you enjoying this as much as I am?” Bloemaker asked. “That a girl. You’re doing a great job baby.”
Unfortunately, that was not enough. He was only able to coax 12.5 ounces from Journey. Apparently, the mayor just wasn’t her type.
It was now Mason Mayor Don Flowers’ turn to sit on the hot seat, which happened to be a green, five gallon bucket.
With quiet reserve, Flowers approached Esme — his goat. He sized her up before sitting down with nothing but determination on his face.
It paid off. After the five minutes was up, he was in the lead with 39 ounces. He was asked if there was a certain technique he used to make him do so well.
“Just doing what I could to get the milk out,” Flowers answered.
It wasn’t over yet. Montrose Village Mayor Carolyn Jansen was next to fill her bucket of goats milk.
Jansen was prepared, paying attention to every detail that would give her the upper advantage.
“I cut my nails for you,” Jansen told Harmony, her goat.
She had a bit of a problem getting milk from one side of Harmony, but that didn’t stop her. Jansen kept squeezing away.
By the end of her time, she managed to collect 14 ounces, putting her in third place.
But there was still one more contestant to go.
It was time for Village Mayor Greg Hess, of Teutopolis, to take his turn filling the bucket with the help of his goat — FiFi.
“On your mark! Get set! Milk!” Stephens yelled.
The sound of milk hitting the bucket cut through the noise of the crowd. Swish-swash, swish-swash, the milk sprayed, echoing against the metal of the bucket.
It was obvious this was not his first milking experience. Hess divulged earlier he had milked cows growing up at his uncle’s farm and worked on a dairy farm by his house at the age of 12 for three years.
Did he know all those many years of milking would prepare him for the contest, allowing him to be triumphant in a goat milking contest?
Hess took first place with a weigh-in of 44 ounces of milk.
Hess was asked what he thought when he was first asked about participating in the event.
“I first thought it was cows. Then I thought – ‘Where would they get cows that would tolerate hand milking?’” he answered.
Luckily, for everyone, including the clean-up crew, goats were used.
By the end of it all, participants and spectators alike had a good time celebrating with Effingham County Farm Bureau, while observing National Dairy Month.
Contestants stood side-by-side proudly and accepted their prizes. They each received a gift bag full of lotions and soaps made from goat’s milk, hand-made by Lynn Wolff. They also received coupons from Culver’s and best of all — the memories of the experience they will always carry with them.
And Hess won a little something extra — bragging rights.
The five community leaders were great sports and had a fun time milking the goats next to the old courthouse.
You might even say it was on their bucket list.