It all began on July 15th.... A typical summer Riders & Ropers event! Families from across rural Deep South Texas Willacy County were gathered for this event, which is just one of a series of youth rodeo events featuring barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, chute roping, AND goat tying. Youth accumulate points at each event to win buckles and other prizes at the end of each season.
Enter Willy.... one of the "rodeo goats" on loan for this particular event. He/She (we are unsure of the gender at the time this was written) and four pen-mates were gathered into a holding pen which was built for cattle used in ranch rodeos. If you do not know much about goats, they are the most STUBBORN of livestock! It is 1:30 in the morning, tired parents, children, and volunteers are loading up horses and goats to go home and all of a sudden the headcount shows one goat is MISSING! After a search to no avail, the families and volunteers called it a night and agreed to continue looking for the missing animal in the morning and over the weekend.
After a little rest and messages to neighbors and local businesses in the area of the rodeo arena to be on the lookout for the missing goat, a generous donor Los Gordos BBQ Competition Team offered up a reward of brisket and slab of ribs. The word got out through social media and a sighting of the onerous caprine in a nearby sugarcane field snowballed into a family-friendly scavenger hunt! The WCLS Board then decided to have a contest to name him with all the publicity he/she was acquiring. So a naming contest ensued with Livestock Show and Fair season passes as the prize! "Willy" was the name chosen, short for Willacy.
As you can see, Willy became an overnight sensation with memes, sightings, and a social media craze. The next thing you know there are families on foot, horseback, ATVs, drones and their pilots, all searching for Willy the Rodeo Goat and the community began contributing to the reward pot. Donations came in for improvements to the holding pens for the future rodeo events, to ensure another goat escape does not happen. The reward donations have been closed and now we just need to find that darn goat! All further donations will go to the WCLS improvements and capital fund which benefits ALL youth involved in 4-H and FFA in Willacy County!
The WCLS Board has been contacted by local, statewide, and now national news organizations for information on the Great Goat Chase of 2023!
The search continues, we will eventually find him/her. He/She will forever now be a legend in this sleepy rural community of deep South Texas.
UPDATE!!!: Willy was captured three weeks later by two local cowboys and safely returned to WCLS Rider N Ropers. She is now officially retired from rodeo and now lives with her two companion goats Nell and Holly. She makes appearances and promotes the Willacy County Livestock Show and Fair. Look for her at future events!
"We absolutely love how this story has taken off.
There is so much negative in the world. So much pain. So much evil. So much controversy. Sometimes we don’t even want to turn on the news. What has become “the great goat chase” wasn’t planned… but if it had been, we couldn’t have planned it better. At a time when the world is often scary, a little rodeo goat, now named Willy, has come along and united an entire community. It’s taught us all that sometimes we need to focus on the good, and that even a nameless rodeo goat is important and worthy and plays a vital role in the world. In this case, the role is reminding us to be kind. To be good neighbors. To help each other out. To support one another. And that everyone is worthy of being saved, being found, and being loved.
Thanks for helping us write this story, Willacy County."
- Alison Savage, WCLSF President