County Fair can be a real zoo

Photo by Amanda White
Photo by Amanda White

BAYTOWN TOWNSHIP — Children came out in droves Thursday for Family Day at the Washington County Fair.

One popular spot was Animal Talks, an exotic zoo from Arlington, Minn.. Animal Talks owner Christian Lilienthal said bringing the animals to local fairs is a side job in the summer, adding that many more animals reside at the zoo than were brought to the county fair.

A dingo, the wild dog of Australia, was curiously sniffing at fair patrons who wanted a pet. Although not fully domesticated, the Animal Talks’ dingo is tame and liked the attention it received.

A couple of young emus, only a few months old and already large, excitedly moved around in their enclosure. The flightless birds are expected to grow to be about six feet tall. The birds were attracted to shiny objects and would not hesitate to peck.

Jude the camel was a huge hit with the kids. Jude enjoyed laying on the ground and twisting his flexible neck around while kids enjoyed petting Jude’s soft, velvety snout. If a child held a hand by Jude’s nostril, he would take a good long sniff and snuffle around the hand.

A baby just learning to walk tentatively held her hand out to feel Jude. She turned to her mom and grandmother with an amused expression, but once the camel decided to stand up and the baby was no higher than his knee and mom moved her away quickly.

A wallaby with a baby in her pouch never came close enough to the sides of her enclosure to be petted. But children visiting Animal Talks spoke about the “kangaroos,” which were actually the wallabys, closely-related to the kangaroo.
In the dairy goat barn, people all around were washing, clipping and feeding the goats, which arrived Thursday morning.

“We were setting up last night, but didn’t bring the goats in until today,” said Bonnie Augustine. “We’ll be here until Monday, and then we’ve got the Wisconsin State Fair and the Minnesota State Fair left this month.”

Augustine is the dairy goat barn superintendent and also owner/operator of Pair-A-Does with her husband, Mark. Her goats were inquistive, standing on ledges to get a better look of the barn and its occupants.

Outside, 10-year-old Ellie Groskupf and 14-year-old Maddie Groskupf hurriedly washed their goat, who bleated the entire time. Later, the sisters put the goat in a harness and clipped its fur to ready him for show.

Three boys showed their pigs in the intermediate level pig showmanship championship. Jimmy Thill, 13, Kelton Rozeboom, 12, and Alex Anderson, 13, guided their pigs around a corral, trying to keep the animals near the center of the ring and their attention on the judge. The judge awarded Rozeboom with grand champion and Anderson with reserve champion, praising their posture and eye contact as well as their confidence with their pigs.

The Washington County Fair continues through Sunday, with gates open at 7 a.m. and exhibits open at 10 a.m. Visit for more information.

Contact Amanda White at [email protected]