Last Saturday I ventured out into the noonday sun and made nice with a PR rep who gave me a quick bit of insider knowledge before slapping a VIP band on my wrist and leading me past a serpentine line of sweaty ticket holders and iPhone-sporting groupies crowded around a tent tagged with signs that read “Sold Out.” Inside the bright yellow flaps of the small enclosure were not a crew of festival celebs or a cadre of performers, but a dozen or so humans fighting to get their hands on one of eight kids — goat kids, that is.
Thanks to the fine folks at CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture), #Goatchella was back for an eighth year of celebrating all things cute and caprine. After last year's event went viral thanks to the wonders of social media, this year's organizers were ready — with stacks maps marking goat-themed market stalls, reserved spots for cheese tastings, and ticketed times for the festival's most popular event: the hold-a-goat tent.
“Do you want to hold a goat?” I hear a woman say behind me. She isn't talking to a child, but a full-grown adult. In fact most of the people I see pass through the goat tent are well past the age of petting zoos. The purpose of Goatchella and the overall mission of CUESA is to connect urban dwellers with local agriculture, regardless of their age or background. Goats are a good point of entry.
They are surprisingly social — more like dogs than their bovine kinfolk. The stars of the afternoon, the kids in CUESA's petting tent are from Toluma Farms and Tomales Farmstead Creamery near Tomales Bay. They are docile and almost affectionate, hardly as distressed or mistreated as nearby protestors would have me believe. A volunteer assures me that Toluma goats graze freely on organic grass. They probably eat better than I do.
Halfway into my VIP time slot I duck down to snap a selfie with a friendly little alpine. “Do you want to hold one?” asks a volunteer. I shrug it off like it's no big deal, but secretly I'm pretty excited. Having grown up on the plains of Nebraska, I'd like to think I can keep it together when it comes to handling livestock. But the goats are just … so goaty. It's all I can do to put mine down when my tent time is up. They actually have to ask me to leave.
CUESA 1 Ferry Building, Suite 50, 415.291.3276