Seven years ago, two local farmers and a farm team franchise forged a friendship that remains a fan favorite.
Circle K Farm Animal Attractions was founded by Ted and Mary Krogh in 1988 when they purchased a former kennel in East Hampton, CT. Ted had grown up on a farm, and they soon began raising alpacas, llamas, sheep, donkeys and goats. According to Mary, their operation began to have an “animal entertainment” focus when her husband had a revelation at work.
“A coworker of his was telling him how he was paying $100 for a clown to be at a children’s party. Ted thought, ‘Jeez, for $100 I’ll dress up as a cowboy and bring my own pony!’”
Circle K now specializes in providing petting farms, educational shows and performing animals for TV and film productions. Along with a cadre of volunteer helpers, the Kroghs tend to alpacas, llamas, sheep, donkeys and goats. “We’ve had our animals on Broadway! They’ve also been featured in high fashion design photo shoots,” Mary said.
In 2015, when the New Britain Rock Cats baseball team was switching its status as the AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins to the Colorado Rockies, they were also changing their venue and mascot. Their new home would be in Hartford, CT, in what was eventually to be named Dunkin’ Donuts Park. And their new mascot was … to be determined.
The team hosted a contest allowing fans to submit nominations for the team’s new mascot. There were over 6,000 entries. A “yard goat” is slang term for a terminal tractor, used to tow trailers around a warehouse or railcars around a train yard. The name was suggested as a nod to Hartford’s past as a railroad hub. Despite being one of the finalists in the competition, the yard goat was not officially the new mascot when the team reached out to Circle K. Nevertheless, the team’s management already knew they wanted an actual goat.
The Kroghs had the perfect candidate in Fancy Pants. Only a year old at the time, Fancy Pants had just been featured in the movie “Wishin’ and Hopin.’” He was just what they were looking for, and the Hartford Yard Goats now had the perfect goat to go along with their newly minted team name.
Today, Ted, Mary and Fancy Pants are a staple at the ballpark, with their own area near center field dubbed “The Goat Pen.” The Kroghs bring Fancy Pants as well as a number of other goats to the stadium. The fan seating above and around the Goat Pen has become extremely popular with fans. During the games, Fancy Pants either rests in a corner or stands on a table, enabling him to get a better view of his surroundings. A city ordinance prevents game goers from petting the animals. All the same, they are a major attraction for family photos and quick selfies.
The only games he takes a pass on are the “Bark in the Park” events, games where fans bring their dogs to the stadium. It’s been suggested that perhaps Fancy Pants keeps a low profile at these times to keep from stealing attention away from his canine friends.
Like all the game’s greats, Fancy Pants will eventually have to retire, but Mary said that’s still a long way off. When the time does come, he will leave some big shoes (or cleats, if they made cleats for cloven hooves) to fill.
“He’s irreplaceable, “ said Mary. “No other goats even look like him. He’s a striking animal, and he’s got a great temperament.”
With all due respect to Tom Brady, many say that this goat is the true G.O.A.T.
For more information visit facebook.com/CircleKFarm. (The last Yard Goats home game is Sept. 11 if you’d like to see Fancy Pants in person.)
by Enrico Villamaino