Buy an original

Collectors throughout Johnson County have no shortage of galleries and stores to buy handmade works by local artists.

But for a truly unique piece, only one group is offering the chance for hoof-painted artwork.

A herd of 12 goats, along with their handlers and 4-H owners, have made beautiful artwork together. The Johnson County 4-H Goat Club have put their animals to work creating colorful abstract art to go towards a scholarship project.

At the Vincent van Goat art auction later this spring, buyers will be able to bid on the paintings to take home themselves. The money raised at auction, as well as a benefit dinner, will help create a scholarship fund for goat club members.

“I really liked all of us coming together and working as a team, to get to know each other better and hang out with the goats,” said Emily Acker, club president. “We got to see that our goats can be as creative as the people can.”

The idea for a goat-driven art auction came from Acker’s mom, Elizabeth Acker.

Elizabeth Acker had been volunteering with the club on fundraising efforts for the past several years. With her help, the goat club was able to generate more than $13,000 for the livestock pens at the new goat building on the Johnson County fairgrounds.

That effort was completed last year, so Elizabeth Acker started looking to the next project.

The Johnson County 4-H Goat Club, which boasts more than 80 members, was interested in a scholarship fund. They wanted to create some way to reward the seniors for all of the hard work they’ve done throughout their 4-H careers, said Hannah Goeb, club leader.

The art auction and dinner will serve as the foundation for that scholarship fund, Goeb said. With enough money raised, they could invest in a way that allows the fund to grow over time.

“We want to start with one scholarship each year, and then expand on that as we do more fundraisers,” she said.

After researching unique ways to generate money for the fund, Elizabeth Acker fixed on the idea of a goat-art auction. Club members would bring their animals together at the fairgrounds, put canvas on the tarped cement floors, apply paint to their goats’ hooves and let them create.

“We’ve done all kinds of fundraisers. We’ve done bowling, sold stuff, had mum sales in the fall. I was trying to find something different where the families wouldn’t be sick of doing,” she said. “It struck me we could do an auction of art, with goats. I thought it would be funny.”

The goat club did their painting on Feb. 7, with 4-H members pairing up together to handle the animals and try to apply the paint. Since they never had done it before, they had to experiment before finding a method that worked for both the goat-artists and the kids.

The goats were admittedly freaked out at first trying to walk with paint on their hooves, Goeb said. But the animals got used to it.

“Once we got a rhythm going, it was fun,” said Sam Wood, club vice president. “It was really different. I’d never done anything with the goats like that.”

Club members are taking the abstract paint smears by the goats, portioning them out and working to frame them inside goat-shaped matting.

On the back of each piece, a small description will talk about the goat that painted it and the 4-Her, Elizabeth Acker said.

All will be presented by a live auctioneer for people to buy, following a dinner made by Kopper Kettle Inn Restaurant.

From her research, Elizabeth Acker cannot find another 4-H club who has done this with their animals. Already, she had fielded calls from other Johnson County clubs about helping their do something similar.

“It’s good to give back to the people who work hard in their 4-H career. Being a 4-Her, you realize this could help me if we keep doing this year after year,” Wood said. “

If you go

Vincent van Goat art auction and scholarship dinner

What: An art event featuring abstract creations made by 4-H Goat Club members and their animals.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. April 2

Where: Scott Hall on the Johnson County fairgrounds,

Benefits: The Johnson County 4-H Goat Club scholarship fund

Dinner: Provided by Kopper Kettle Inn Restaurant, featuring country-fried chicken, whipped mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, buttered sweet corn, seasoned green beans, homemade coleslaw, rolls and dessert.


  • 6 p.m.: Doors open; art on display for preview
  • 6:30 p.m.: Dinner served
  • 7 p.m.: Auction begins

Tickets: $20, available by presale only. Tickets are available until March 11.

Purchase: Contact Elizabeth Acker at 346-6637 or e-mail at


Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.