There’s something odd in the air, and no it’s not COVID-19. But it’s related.
Local singer-songwriter J’aime Payne has come up with an idea for a talent show with a twist during this global pandemic. And you really don’t need much talent: the judges are goats, after all.
“Have you ever had a random idea float through your mind that seems a little odd—okay maybe even a little more than odd—but it pops in nonetheless from a word someone said or a conversation you overheard and all of a sudden you’ve got a cinema in your mind of an idea, an odd idea, that might just bring some joy into our lives?” said Payne, the force behind the Snow Lake Initiative. “Well, this was GOAT, the Greatest Of All Time Talent Search at Sky River Meadows for me. When I first caught wind through my sister that the herd of therapy animals were impacted by COVID-19, much like the rest of us, my immediate first thought was, ‘well, the goats showed up for us in -20 degree weather in the middle of November for our Hospice [Huntsville] fundraiser, it’s time for us to show up for them.'”
Payne said GOAT exists to be a lighthearted mental health reminder, while helping Sky River Meadows during an economic strain.
“With COVID-19, loss of loved ones, far-reaching pain and suffering from the Black Lives Matter protests, not to mention the economic impact on our tourist town, it’s impossible to know the ‘right’ thing to say right now,” she said. “Chaos and suffering, now amplified with technology, are hurting not only our physical bodies but our mental health. I cannot think of a better use of a free afternoon than to pack up your car with your family or ‘social circle’ and head to a therapy goat farm. Really, I can’t. At Sky River Meadows it is truly a relief, if only for a moment, for our troubled minds. The goats are trained to love you, and I am happy to report that they are either excellent actors or they truly hold a special place in their tiny goat hearts for you.”
GOAT is a talent search for everyone, running now until Aug. 9.
“Anyone who has a semblance of a talent can enter,” said Payne. “We’re talking knitters, jugglers, comedians, singers, dancers, painters, sculptors, ventriloquists; come join GOAT. Bring your kids. Bring your friends. Do not bring your good shoes. It is intended to be tongue-in-cheek as talent searches continue to exist and the ‘rubric’ in which artists of various talents are ‘scored’ are often mysterious and a little ridiculous in my opinion. For GOAT, you will get your GOAT points calculated for you, but it’s really just a great opportunity to experience the magic of therapy animals with your family, friends or social circle, while also getting to share your talent, keep the content, and help the herd out, as all registration fees go toward helping feed the herd.”
The goats at Sky River Meadows are the judges: 49 of them.
Points are awarded based on a variety of judging components including the number of goat licks or goat sneezes the performer receives, or if the goats fight over the talent.
“The judges score their performance using a scoreboard and the video is used to help determine the score,” said Payne. “Each contestant has an ‘episode,’ which will be uploaded through The Snow Lake Initiative’s YouTube channel.”
GOAT is part of Payne’s Snow Lake Initiative, a service to help artists find grants and resources to help with their creative ventures.
“Programming for The Snow Lake Initiative has often hinged on doing things a little differently. We pride ourselves on offering unique opportunities with an underlying current of not taking ourselves too seriously,” she said. “We think that balance is important for a long, fruitful career in the arts. For many artists, COVID-19 has completely destroyed 100 per cent of their revenue. There’s lots to unpack here, but we believe that checking in with our mental health during challenging times is paramount for pivoting, or re-assessing our business plans.”
There’s a $100 fee to enter GOAT. Payne encourages artists to have friends and family get in on the day and split the cost.
“The revenue stream for Sky River Meadows has been challenged greatly by the inability to go into schools, or really anywhere where groups of individuals could experience the herd,” said Payne. “Feeding the herd does get easier in the summer months where fields of food flourish, but the challenge for most seasonal businesses in Muskoka is bringing in business during tourism season to help manage the cash flow of the down season. Getting creative with how customers can support you has surely been a marketing nightmare for some businesses, but fortunately entrepreneurs are either incredibly creative already, or smart enough to know they need some creative minds on their team. GOAT feels like a win-win. Artists get amazing content with the goat herd, family/friends get the incredibly healing experience of being surrounded by the love of therapy animals, the farm gets a tiny fiscal boost that will help with cash flow, and viewers get to watch episodes of GOAT online without stepping on goat poop.”
To register for GOAT email firstname.lastname@example.org, or see more information at thesnowlakeinitiative.ca.
“If you’ve got a talent, let’s test it in front of Muskoka’s toughest critics, where the judges are totally real and the scoreboard super matters,” said Payne.
See the first episode of GOAT talent search in the video below.
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