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FAIR HEADLINER
Animal lover Connelly enjoys participating in livestock shows
Emma Connelley
Emma Connelly has been a fixture at the Effingham County Fair since 2014. She won two reserve grand champion titles in the 2018 Goat Show and also helped with other livestock events. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Over the past five years, Emma has made a name for her as being a good shower but truly having a heart for the animals.
Charlotte Connelly, Emma Connelly's mother
Emma Connelly
Emma Connelly recently placed fourth in seventh-grade showmanship at the Georgia State Fair in Perry. Two of her goats finished in the top 10 in their weight class. - photo by Photo submitted

 RINCON — The Effingham County Fair, set to start in Springfield on Thursday, will be adorned by thousands of colorful lights. Few of them will be as radiant as Emma Connelly.

A seventh grader at Effingham County Middle School, Emma shines the brightest while competing in livestock shows. 

“I’ve been around animals my whole life,” she said. “I’ve been showing goats for six years.”

Emma had her best Effingham County Fair showing in 2018, winning two reserve grand champion awards and finishing second in showmanship.

“Her hard work and dedication paid off,” said Charlotte Connelly, Emma’s mother.  

Emma has continued to succeed in the ring. She recently placed fourth in seventh-grade showmanship at the Georgia State Fair in Perry. There were 39 competitors and her showing was the best among seventh-grade FFA members.

“It was because of the (Effingham County Fair) and the friends that she made in the barn that she is the shower that she is today,” Mrs. Connelly said.

Emma, who intends to study veterinary science at the University of Georgia, lives on a farm on the outskirts of Guyton. Her 15-year-old sister, Bailey, shows goats, too.

“I’ve also got chickens, cats and dogs,” Emma said. “My goat is my favorite — Axel. All my animals have names.”

The Connelly estate features 11 goats, several of which Emma plans to enter in the Effingham County Fair Goat Show at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22.

“I’ve got five,” she said. “I’ve got Chester, Axel, Precious, Crazy Town and Hope.”

As the name implies, Crazy Town is a little different.

“She doesn’t like to be touched,” Emma said. “When you come in there, she wants to go back to the pen.”

Emma spends lots of time with Crazy Town but she has never gotten the goat to shake her shyness.

“It’s just the type of goat that she is,” Emma explained. “I’ve shown her a few times. She will put up a fight but she will show pretty good.”

Raising goats and preparing them for livestock shows takes a considerable investment of time.

“I feed them everyday  and, after about one week, I clean up after them,” she said. “They stay in a pen separated from the other goats. We have to clean them, wash them and shave them.”

The goats are fed twice a day. They receive what Connelly called “texture food.” It consists of whole grains and nutritious pellets.

“It’s very weird,” she said. “It’s soft but they like it.”

Emma said that a goat’s brainpower can be surprising.

“Sometimes,” she said. “It depends on the category. They all have different personalities.”

Emma’s personality and work ethic haven’t gone unnoticed. Last year, Effingham County Fair Livestock Committee Chairman Gerald Kessler asked her to help with the Swine Show, plus the Cattle and Lamb Show. She handed out ribbons and assisted where needed.

“Over the past five years, Emma has made a name for her as being a good shower but truly having a heart for the animals,” Mrs. Connelly said.

Emma, a stellar student, has few outside interests.

“It’s mainly animals and FFA,” she said. “I’m a big part of FFA.”

In addition to showing goats, Emma competes in FFA livestock judging and veterinary science events. She is also the vice president of her chapter.

Emma intends to splurge a bit with any winnings she might acquire at the Effingham County Fair.

“I usually save my money for stuff like the fair and other stuff that might come in handy with the goals,” she said. “I will ride some rides.”

The Effingham County Fair will open Thursday at 5 p.m.