By Herb Meeker

News Report Staff

Mayors across Effingham County will let their fingers do the talking during next week’s Effingham County Farm Bureau Goat Milking Contest.

Elected officials from several communities will compete for prizes and “bragging rights” during the competition along Fourth Street by the old courthouse square. The milking starts at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 9.

Contestants confirmed so far to sit down on a bucket include mayors Jeff Bloemker of Effingham; Brad Hardiek, Dieterich; Donnie Flowers, Mason; and Carolyn Jansen, Montrose. The organizers also hope to draw leaders from Altamont, Beecher City, Shumway and Teutopolis.

“They’ll be putting the milk in a bucket and then weighing it,” said Effingham County Farm Bureau Director Julie Stephens. “They have five minutes for milking. And the mayors will be sitting on 5-gallon buckets during the competition.”

So far, none of the competitors have “educated fingers” or past milking experience. The organizers have decided to engage instructional help from a dairy goat owner, Lynn Wolff, of Altamont, Stephens said.

“The ones we’ve talked to have said they’ve never done this before. They all laughed when we asked them to do it and said, ‘This would be interesting,’” Stephens said. “We’ve not had anyone say they expect to win yet.”

Originally, the event was to have the mayors milking cows. Then someone said “Whoa!”

“We decided to use goats instead because they are more manageable. And we thought size wise and for cleanup purposes, the goats would work better for this,” Stephens said.

This will be a spectator sports competition with onlookers encouraged to enjoy the efforts of the elected officials. But it is advised to keep your distance to avoid getting doused with any milk streams going off target.

The milking contest was held decades ago by the Farm Bureau with local mayors then joining in the fun. The event was resurrected to celebrate the local Farm Bureau’s centennial year and to also recognize June as Dairy Month.

The mayors will not walk away with a bucket of goat’s milk. There will be participation prizes distributed, including products using goat milk as ingredients such as soap or lotions. The winner with the heaviest bucket will earn a grand prize.

The event will coincide with the weekly Farmers Market in Effingham. In addition, the milking contest will offer some education to the public on dairy goats.

“Many people are not aware of goat milking. But some people now prefer goat milk,” Stephens said.