Special Events

I Milked a Goat and Brought Home a Trophy

Faith Bugenhagen milking Carla, who was quite the temperamental goat.
Faith Bugenhagen milking Carla, who was quite the temperamental goat. Photo by Jennifer Lake
I walked in wearing overalls. I had watched goat milking videos for days and had another run-through that morning. The daughter of a former veterinarian I was as ready as I could be to represent the Houston Press.

As I walked into the NRG Center’s Hall A this weekend, I kept repeating in my head “don’t pull, squeeze lightly and roll the milk out” — advice I gathered from all my research. The chant assured me that if worse came to worst, I would at least have a technique to rely on.

The result of all this preparation? Yes, I took home a trophy in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Celebrity Goat Milking Contest.

The trophy for last place.

This is an accolade that I never thought I would attach to my professional resume and not the kind of journalism contest I thought I would ever be in, but last Saturday’s competition gave me the opportunity.

The Celebrity Goat Milking Contest has been around for 20 years and brings together local TV broadcast and journalist personalities to face off against each other and see who is named the champion and champion reserve goat-milker of the competition.

Those vying for these titles with me included radio personalities Andy “Riggs” Riggle and Erica Rico from the 93QMorning Show, George Lindsey and Erik Smith from the Bull Houston, Carder Price from 89.3 KSBJ’s Morning Show, Young Jas from 97.9 The Box, Sarah Pepper from Mix 96.5 and Audrey Rose from 104.1 KRBE.

Also, Caroline Sanchez and Caroline Collins from FOX 26 Houston, Audrey Rose from 104.1 KRBE, and Executive Vice President of the 2023 Livestock Show and Rodeo Charlene Walkoviak, alongside HLSR’s Digital Media Manager Amanda Caffey.

The host of this year’s competition, Johnny Bravo, told the 13 of us that we had a one-minute time limit to fill our milking buckets with as much milk from our respective goats as possible. Once the minute was over, we had to take the milk and place it in a jug to be measured to see who from each round got the most.
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Erik Smith won the second round of the competition and secured his position in the final round as champion reserve.
Photo by Jennifer Lake
When my editor told me I would be representing the Press in the competition, I was excited but hesitant because I had never milked a goat before.

Once I got to the small stage the competition was held, I suspected I was in trouble. My fellow competitors were decked out in country wear and cowboy hats, looking like they had been doing this for years. I learned that Lindsey was the one to beat, as he was a previous winner in 2017.

I had assumed my overalls would bring me some magical ability to get all the milk from my goat, Carla, out. However, I quickly realized after my test-run resulted in an empty bucket, that not even my clothing could provide me with luck.

Carla let me know that despite my best efforts in milking her properly, she was not very happy with my ability (or lack thereof). I dodged a couple kicks and nervous movements and tried to calm her down amid desperately attempting to get more milk out.

After my round was over, it was safe to say I was the top contender for the last place honors. I had next to no goat milk in my jug, compared to the other competitors who had a couple ounces each.

Knowing that I was likely going to be awarded last place, I took the rest of the time to cheer on my competitors and talk with the other contestants about their methods. I approached Lindsey, who was the first-round winner, to ask him what the trick was. He looked at me and said he just got lucky, after not having milked a goat since the last time he won the competition. Clearly, he wasn’t into sharing any trade secrets.

After the second and third round winners, Erik Smith and Erica Rico, were named there was one final round which resulted in Lindsey assuming his 2017 position as the champion goat-milker and Smith as the champion reserve.

And of course, yours truly being crowned the competition’s last place goat-milker.
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All three award recipients, Champion George Lindsey, Champion reserve Erik Smith, and Last-place milker Faith Bugenhagen.
Photo by Jennifer Lake
I was awarded a rodeo apron and a silver bucket that said “you milked a goat, and LOST” which was filled with nuggets of goat waste in the form of Milk Duds. Entirely appropriate.

I’m ready to try again next year. Lessons learned? You can’t rely on luck. Videos can only take you so far. And while practice may not make you perfect, I think I’ll need some hands-on experience with other goats before the next competition.

Carla, I’m coming for you.
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Faith Bugenhagen is on staff as a news reporter for The Houston Press, assigned to cover the Greater-Houston area.