By Becca Robbins

Eleven-year-old Taylor Johnson of Baker City grabbed a fistful of the pink neck chain to lead her 1-year-old Boer goat into the show arena at the Baker County Fair Thursday morning.

After not placing with her goat last year, Taylor had something to prove with her showmanship and knowledge of her goat, Gloria.

Although she was calm and collected sitting in the stands with Gloria, watching the judge circle the intermediate class that was first up, Taylor said when it’s her turn in the arena she tries not to look at her family members gathered in the stands to support her.

“I normally keep my eyes on the judge and don’t look at the audience,” Taylor said. “I get stage fright. When they start placing them, I start to get a little nervous.”

Her mother, Angie Johnson, sitting with Taylor’s grandparents and great-grandma, said she “gets a little nervous for (Taylor) when she goes in the ring.”

Taylor’s strategy paid off when she won first in the junior showmanship class.

She also brought three other goats to the fair; Kola, Ziggy and one called Mate, which she is selling. Those three goats laid in a pen with Dotty, the goat that Taylor’s 7-year-old brother, Xander, showed.

Taylor said Wednesday, with the breeding stock competition and conformation, was “crazy” and that she had “a lot more responsibility with more animals” since all four of hers competed instead of just Gloria.

The pace of the day combined with the record-setting temperatures had her sweating while she ran back and forth with her different goats.

Taylor already had an array of ribbons on display above her pen from Wednesday, including several that were blue.

Although Taylor said she kept an eye on the goats’ water and occasionally broke out the cooling blankets, Angie said the sweltering heat for us wasn’t too big of a deal for the breed of goat that hails from South Africa.

Before the clock struck 9 a.m. and the meeting with the judge started, Taylor had Gloria on a trimming stand. She cleaned out the goat’s ears, scrubbed stains from her fur and cleaned her hooves.

Later, as Taylor and Gloria were waiting for their turn in the ring, Gloria was looking for something to take a bite out of and nuzzling herself against those next to her.

“She’s way over friendly,” Taylor said of her companion.

Taylor said Gloria loves apricots and her favorite treat is animal crackers.

Some of the things Taylor focuses on while in the arena is making sure she doesn’t touch her goat too often and that the goat doesn’t look at the other goats, which she said Gloria tends to do a lot.

“I want to keep my eyes on the judge,” she said.

On their 4 acres, the Johnsons have 15 does, or female goats, and two bucks, or male goats, some of which Taylor said they share with her grandpa.

Although she didn’t place in the grand championship round, Taylor said she enjoys showing goats and hopes to do it again next year.

The Baker County Fair kicked off Tuesday and runs through Saturday night, concluding with the Demolition Derby.