William Carlson – champion at the National Goat Show

Marjorie Kitchens, William Carlson and Karyl Dronen pose with one of the goats at the National Goat Show. Mentors Marjorie and Karyl, the Goat Ladies, taught William everything he knows about goats.
Submitted photo

At the recent American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) National Goat Show in Louisville, Ky., July 17-23, William Carlson, 14, of Looney Valley won four awards. champion!

Carlson was awarded the title of junior management champion. This competition consisted of a written test of 30 to 50 questions testing his knowledge of goats, their care, their diseases, etc. Carlson had the highest score in his age category; the senior division also had only one champion.

Another title won by Carlson was the Intermediate Showmanship Champion. In this competition he was judged on the actual show of his goat; the skills of the person showing the goat are judged – not the goat itself. The points were tallied on a scorecard by the judges, and each of the four competitor divisions awarded the champion to the best player.

The third champion prize went to the Junior Premier Youth Exhibitor. Carlson received Junior Management points (20), Intermediate Showmanship points (20) and points for actually showing his goat (10); these points earned him the Junior Premier Youth Exhibitor Champion award.

Its fourth champion came from the Prime Minister of Toggenburg; this competition was for this specific breed of goat. The Toggenburg is a Swiss breed of dairy goat.

Carlson started working with goats seven years ago at the age of seven. His father, a real estate agent, had received a goat as part of his commission on the sale of a house. The Carlsons bought another goat as a companion and then continued to raise the goats.

The Carlsons now have a herd of 30 goats which they are raising for the show. In the fall, they will sell some of the goats and reduce the herd to 10-15 goats until the new kids are born in the spring.

As a 4-Her, Carlson showed goats locally and at the State Fair, winning the Reserve Championship title in 2019. Last year, the State Fair competition was held virtually with competitors submitting a video. The national goat show that was scheduled for Grand Island, Nebr., Was canceled in 2020.

William showing his goat at the National Goat Show.
Submitted photo

This year, William traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for the weeklong event. Anyone who wants to attend can participate, but it is considered the toughest competition in the United States. There were 3,000 goats at this event. Carlson took his three best goats to the show just for the experience. When asked what he liked most about the show, Carlson replied, “The funniest part was talking with people – they’re all so nice!”

Carlson has a few family friends who are his mentors, Karyl Dronen and Marjorie Kitchens, aka the Goat Ladies. The couple, along with Mary Thompson, are part of the Minnesota Goat Ladies, a Houston County “club”. The three friends organized a goat show in Caledonia in September.

Dronen and Kitchens have mentored Carlson for the past five years with his goats, as well as older brother Noah and sister Lilly in the past. They welcome anyone with 4-H dairy goats to their home in Houston County and teach them how to show goats. The winners can count on continued support in the preparation of the state fair; Carlson also had his help in preparing for the national championships.

In addition to showing off his own goats, Calrson and two others showed off the Nigerian dwarf goats from Dronen and Kitchen in the open class at the national championships. With hundreds of Nigerian dwarf goats at the show and 75 in a single class, the Goat Ladies were happy to place in the top 10% of the competitions; they were awarded eighth place out of 38 in one event.

According to Carlson, the two ladies taught him everything and continue to do so. He readily admits that he always calls them for advice if he has a sick goat. The Goat Ladies still own about fifty goats; they milk their goats themselves twice a day, currently giving milk to their neighbors for their show pigs.

The Goat Ladies recognize Carlson’s work ethic and good parenting support. They appreciated his curiosity from an early age when he asked lots of smart questions. They grew up to see him as family and proudly celebrate his accomplishments.

Carlson will be able to show his goats in the Junior divisions until he is 20; the national exhibition will be in Harrisburg next year. While he’s interested in showing off again, it’s not the only thing he enjoys doing. He is involved in basketball, piano, speech, Knowledge Bowl and has already appeared in five dramatic productions, including the most recent Chicago production at Houston High School.

William is humble about his accomplishments, but you just have to ask yourself, “Will he be the GOAT of future national goat shows?” He seems to be off to a good start!

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