It wasn’t the goat in the rainbow tutu or the one dressed like a sailor that stole first place in the celebrity show featuring the costuming skills of elected city, county and state officials.
It was Alachua County Manager Michele Lieberman and Alachua County Commission Chair Ken Cornell’s Gator Goat dressed in orange, blue and straw hat that took the blue ribbon.
More than 100 spectators watched the contest and the ribbon-cutting ceremony that followed on Saturday night at the Agriculture and Equestrian Center after a full day of events at the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show.
Representatives from Newberry, High Springs, the City of Alachua, the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County director, U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack and past and present county commissioners all lined up at a 20-foot red, white and blue ribbon as Cornell snipped it with giant gold scissors.
“Congratulations to Newberry and Alachua County,” Cornell said as he welcomed the crowd to the new location of the Alachua County Fair.
Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe thanked everyone who put overtime making sure the facility was ready for this week’s youth fair.
“Wow, this place looks amazing,” Marlowe said. “It feels like we were just here for the groundbreaking ceremony.”
Cammack said it was cooperation, coordination and time put in by all parties involved that made the center a reality.
“But at the end of the day, it’s all about the kids,” she said.
Alachua County poet laureate E. Stanley Richardson then recited the poem The Hay Rake written by Kate Barnes.
Dr. Cynthia Sanders, the UF/IFAS Extension director, thanked the City of Newberry for purchasing the property that the UF/IFAS buildings are on. She reminded the crowd that even if the kids participating in the youth fair don’t become farmers, they will use the skills they learn at the facility in future accomplishments.
The Alachua County Commission purchased the Agriculture and Equestrian Center back in August of 2019 for $3.9 million and invested an additional $8.4 million for on-site capital improvements. The tourist development tax funded the acquisition and renovations.
The Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show, running March 5-9, is the first event in the new space, which has a 150-foot by 250-foot open-air facility with seating for more than 2,000 spectators.
Upcoming events in the livestock show are as follows:
Sunday, March 7
10:00 AM Goat Skill-A-Thon
10:00 AM Poultry Showmanship
1:00 PM Beef Showmanship
6:00 PM Swine Showmanship
Monday, March 8
9:00 AM Livestock Judging Registration
9:30 AM Livestock Judging Competition
12:30 PM Cattleman’s Contest
1:30 PM Swine Sense
6:00 PM Beef Heifer/Bull/Mature Cow Show
Tuesday, March 9
11:30-12:45 PM Buyers Luncheon
1:00 PM Market Animal Sale