July 4 celebration in Iowa features goat races

Sunday, June 15, 2003

MYSTIC, Iowa -- This dwindling Iowa town is hoping goat races will revive its Independence Day celebration.

The clatter of hoofs on the brick main street will be heard July 5 during the first annual Mystic Goat Races.

Once a bustling coal town of 3,000 people, the town near the Missouri border, now has about 600 residents.

Gone are the stores, its school and many of the town's homes. Also gone are the crowds that once filled Mystic's streets for the Fourth of July celebration.

The Mystic Booster Club hopes to revive those days this year with a parade, Mystic Queen pageant, live music and the goat race.

Promoters say they hope to attract people, and contestants, from all over the state.

There also will be a celebrity goat race, featuring the county sheriff, the dean of the local community college and several local business people.

During a race, a goat jockey runs behind the goat barefoot, holding onto its leash and guiding it with a branch.

Local rules will disqualify anyone who swats their goat. Racers also won't be able to drag or carry their goat. Shoes are optional.

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