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Mifflin County Youth Fair uses Lozier Community Grant support to serve growing passion for youth showing goats

Mifflin County Youth Fair uses Lozier Community Grant support to serve growing passion for youth showing goats

In its second year, the employee-led Lozier Community Grant program supported 50 nonprofit organizations across the country. Recipients were selected by employee committees in all five Lozier locations.  Over the next couple of months, the recipient organizations’ stories of impact will be shared on LozierLink.

Summertime in central Pennsylvania means one thing for rural families throughout the Keystone State- it’s fair season.

For the goat show at Reedsville’s Mifflin County Youth Fair, 2023 was a banner year.

“We actually had to move goat areas in the barn due to the lack of space,” Mifflin County 4-H Goard Club leader Kevin McElwain said. “We ended up with 46 kids in 4-H and three in FFA for the 2023 year.” Working alongside educators like Amy Spickler, McElwain and the army of volunteers at the Fair help kids get their projects- be it animal, craft or challenge- set for the summertime show while encouraging teamwork and cooperation.

“Kids really want to be there, they want to be involved,” Spickler said. “They have good leadership skills coming out of it, good volunteerism. It’s all the things that a 4-H Club is supposed to be.”

For Mifflin County High School graduate and Delaware Valley University student Alexis Casner, the fairgrounds are like home.

“It means everything to me,” Casner said after claiming a goat class title. “We spend year-round practicing for it, preparing for this fair. We don’t go to vacations or anything, this is pretty much our vacation. So, it’s just like my home away from home. It means a lot to me.”

The feeling was shared by Page and Kobain Pellman. The McClure natives come from a long line of goat tenders, with their parents proudly supporting the carrying on the family tradition of raising bucks and does to the Mifflin County Youth Fair.

“I like having a challenge, I love challenges, and goats really test you. Test your patience, test your strength,” Kobain said.

WATCH: Competitors and volunteers at the 2023 Mifflin County Youth Fair speak about support from the Lozier Community Grant program, funding new metal goat pens.

“I love it, I love the excitement of getting to fair and just working with a goat,” Page added. “It’s exciting, but it’s also hard.”

The good news of growing support did bring some unexpected problems for the Fair. Limited room for the animals lead to a need to replace aging goat pens. The all-new metal enclosures are safer, stronger and easier to use.

“The other ones, it was like, a long stick that you had to pull out. It was so hard. Now, you’ve just got this little itty-bitty thing to pull out to open the gate,” Page observed.

“I love them,” Kobain added. “They’re really sturdy too. I was kind of admiring the welds and all that, seeing how it’s really simple but really sturdy.”

The enclosures were funded, in part, by support from the Lozier Community Grant program. The Mifflin County Youth Fair is one of six groups receiving funding from the committee in McClure. From competitors to volunteers, everyone is in agreements- events like this can’t happen without the support of a caring community.

“I want to thank you all for your continued support,” McElwain said. “It’s pretty overwhelming. It’s greatly appreciated for everything you guys have done for us.”

“You are awesome, and what you’re doing, our kids greatly appreciate it, our families really appreciate it,” Spickler said. “It would not be possible if we did not continue to get support from the community.”

“It is truly amazing to know that a community cares this much, because they give back to us and we are able to give back to them with the community service,” Casner said.

“Thank for supporting us,” Page added. “For the kids here, it’s about having fun. I know it’s a competition, but it about having fun, too.”