Bleachers were packed full at the 99th Annual Heath Fair as Luke Inman held tight to the reins of the pair of Belgian draft horses, Rex and Rowdy, during the horse draw. They won to a resounding round of cheers, pulling the 8,000-pound stone boat 45 ½ inches. Bill Clark, Heath, MA resident and owner of Clark Logging and Lumber, own the pair.
At age 15 and 16 respectively, the horses have as many years behind them as Inman has driving. He started when he was 16 and is now 32. “I worked for Bill Clark. That’s when I started driving for him. I’ve been pulling with the same team for 11 years.” Bill Clark had driven pulling horses for his whole life and then handed the reins over to Inman.
Was Inman surprised he won? “Yes, I knew it was going to be a close competition.”
Inman says the horses are fed a special diet. “Everyone has different ideas. We give them their basic horse vitamins, oats and horse feed,” said Inman.
His wife Amanda, daughter Emmalee, son Wyatt and many friends cheered him on.
Joe Perkins of New Hampshire placed 2nd, pulling 43½ inches with his pair Teddy Bear and Abe. Ben Damuth placed 3rd with his pair Johnny and Carolina, pulling 26½ inches. Joe Perkins’ other pair placed 4th, pulling 14 inches.
Horse pulling and ox pulling are in the blood. Clark’s son Nathan, ran the horse-pull and ox-pull for the Heath Fair held Aug. 19 through 21, with his wife Cindy. On Sunday, their son, Daniel won the 3,200-pound class in the ox draw.
David Funk judged the dairy goats during the fair’s 6th ADGA Nationally Sanctioned Dairy Goat Show on Saturday. Anne Petersen of Rosasharn Farm from Rehoboth, MA won Grand Champion with her Nigerian Dwarf Rosasharn Moonsail and Reserve Champion with her Nigerian Dwarf Foxy in the senior show. In the separately sanctioned junior show, her Nigerian Dwarf Lovesong won reserve champion.
For the senior show, the goats’ milk bag must be full, as their mammary system is a key focal point, and afterwards must be milked immediately. Petersen talked for a bit while milking her Grand Champion, whose mammary system was the epitome of dairy goats according to judge Funk.
She had 10 goats at home and six with her at the fair. She has been raising goats for almost 30 years on her 120-acre farm. She also raises Heritage breed hogs, Katahdin sheep, and Great Pyrenees. “The Great Pyrenees go hand-in-hand with the goats, I couldn’t raise the goats if I didn’t have my dogs.”
At home, she makes the goats’ milk into cheese, soap, and yogurt, as well as drinks it.
She can’t sell the milk for people to drink at her home due to state laws. According to Petersen, in Massachusetts, a farmer can only sell goat milk for animal feed and craft production, like soap.
What does she like best about working with her goats? “There’s not one best thing. For their milk, love their personalities, to have beauty of the goats; aesthetically, they are very pleasing to me,” she answered.
She is assisted by her son Linden primarily, her husband, and sometimes her daughter Elinor. She has two older children, all grown up and on their own that had shown goats at 4-H.
Jamee Oehley of Cartroad Farm in Upton, MA showed her three Alpine does, Sadie, Penny Lane and Clarabella.
Lorene Toth of Sunnydale Farm in Woodstock, CT won a 1st place with one of her Nigerian Dwarfs. She has been showing goats for 10 years.
Liebe Coolidge of Caledonia Alpines Farm in Plainfield, MA won reserve champion in the senior show’s French Alpine class with her five-year-old doe, Sorrell. Sorrell also won a 2nd place and Coolidge’s other goats won two 3rd places. As Coolidge is seeking to make her a permanent champion, Sorrell needs to win three championships, or three legs. Sorrell had won her first championship at four months, and another two years ago for best of breed.
“I’m striving to get her last leg, then I’ll retire her,” said Coolidge. She’s been busy at her farm tending 12 baby goats, readying them for sale.
While the dairy goat show progressed, music from the band Moonshine Holler echoed from the bandstand and an announcer alerted people that the renowned chicken barbecue was ready. The fireworks that occurred on Friday night, a blueberry pancake breakfast on Sunday, live music and dancing, dog trials, seven speaker presentations including one on Seed Saving by CR Lawn, founder of Fedco Seeds, a rabbit show, cattle show, sheep show, hall exhibits, kids garden tractor pull, a tractor pull and more guaranteed something for everyone.