by Pat Malin
BOONVILLE, NY — Stephanie Finn of Finndale Farms, Holland Patent, showed 15 goats in the 4-H division at the Oneida County Boonville Fair and seemed to have all the bases covered when it came to garnering awards.
Her 7-year-old LaMancha doe, “Chance,” won eight ribbons alone, including best in breed, senior champion and grand champion in the competition on Saturday, July 27. Chance was among a handful finalists in the Best of Show.
Likewise, Andrea Larry of Scotchbriar Nubians, also of Holland Patent, who has been showing goats professionally for 20 years and competing in the open show, was counting on her doe, “Ninue,” to win the top prize.
Both of them were a little disappointed after Jeremy Lesniak of Lesniak-Hill Dairy Goats of Utica took home the trophy with 3-year-old “Leia.” They shouldn’t have been surprised though, since Jeremy’s father, Stan Lesniak, is an established goat breeder in the Mohawk Valley. In fact, he does the breeding for Finndale Farms’ goats.
Patricia Lynn-Ricotta, the judge for the goat show, described Leia as “very strong in her general appearance. She has the strongest mammary system, meaning she has strength in her attachments.”
Stan Lesniak is a former dairy cow farmer who has a modest business with dairy goats. According to its Facebook page, Lesniak-Hill Farm purchased two Alpine does in 1996, and “(t)he growth has never stopped.” They can now boast of 50 show quality Alpine, LaMancha and Toggenburg does and bucks.
Jeremy Lesniak, 32, specializes in raising Alpines. His brother, Justin, raises Toggenburgs and their sister, Stacy, shows LaManchas. The three children all have careers off the farm. Jeremy and Stacy are RNs. Justin works at SUNYIT, a local college. Jeremy was accompanied to the fair by his fiancee, Kate Costello of Massachusetts, and they were planning to get married on Aug. 4.
Stephanie Finn, 15, owns 20 goats overall, including LaManchas, Nubians, Toggenburgs, Alpines, Saanen and Oberhasli, and also shows pigs. Her parents, Debbie and Travis Finn and her aunt and uncle, Stephanie and Troy Finn, jointly run a 550-cow dairy.
She’s been showing goats at 4-H shows for 10 years. She described Chance as “pretty youthful, very dairy for her breed, with a good udder. We had three of her kids in this show. She has had five sets of kids overall. I’ve tried breeding goats, but it was too hard. That’s why we go to Mr. Lesniak.”
After the show, Finn took time to thank the judge for her appraisal and to get tips on improving her showing. Lynn-Ricotta told Finn to pay attention to the small details, “fitting issues,” such as clipping and grooming. She also recommended that Finn take a 4-H class prior to the state fair.
Both Andrea Larry and her husband, Jeff Larry, have fulltime jobs outside their goat business, but devote most weekends to showing goats. “I started in 4-H when I was 15, but when I got too old, I became a professional show person,” said Andrea, an RN at Rome Memorial Hospital. The couple’s two daughters, Julia, 7, and Ava, 4, have been attending shows on the weekends since shortly after their births. “I brought Julia to her first show when she was six-weeks old, and Ava when she was five-days old,” exclaimed Andrea.
by Pat Malin