KALISPELL, Mont. - Some Flathead County residents have been working for nearly six years to get goats added to the meat auction category at the Northwest Montana Fair.
The fair currently has goat classes for both dairy and meat, in the exhibit part of the fair. Only steers, hogs and sheep can be auctioned. The fair board is having a meeting Thursday night to talk about the possibility of changing that.
"I would love for them to accept the goats into the market," said Flathead County resident Tomi Todaro.
Todaro and her children have been raising goats for years, and their goats have participated in the fair for the past four years. Todaro said she can show the goats in the fair, but not participate in the market sale.
"They [Todaro's kids] see other kids go into the ring and they come out and they're all happy because their animal just sold," she said.
If the buyer doesn't want to eat the meat, a meat packer tries to sell it to people in the Flathead, but the fair board is not sure if there is a market for goat meat.
"We don't want that packer to have that burden of not being able to sell that meat. So it's a commodity and we have to make sure there's a market for that commodity," said Mark Campbell, the fairgrounds manager.
There is also concern that if the fair board includes goats in the market sale, they will have to accept all other animals.
"All of these steps have to stay in place to really keep the program intact, and if we start to deviate from that we could have residual effects," Campbell said.
Campbell also noted that there are no USDA standards for goats.
"Is that still sufficient to proceed on that carcass contest," he said.
"It's breaking the kids' hearts, and it just really is not fair to them," Todaro said.
Todaro said the bottom line isn't about the goats, or making a profit, rather to teach her kids to sell in the market.
"It's a big mystery to them because they always sell outside of the fair. They want the experience of the auction, the market," said Todaro.
The fair board will discuss the matter and make sure whatever decision they make will set precedent and apply to other animals for meat sales in the future.