Ride a camel at the Western Idaho Fair

The dromedaries and their owner traveled from Oregon for their first year in Boise.

kterhune@idahostatesman.comAugust 17, 2013 

  • Saturday's schedule

    8 a.m.: Dairy Goat Quality, 4-H/FFA, Show Ring 3

    8:30 a.m.: Cavy Showmanship, 4-H/FFA, Small Animal Building; Horses-Showmanship/Bareback Eq., 4-H/FFA, D&B Arena

    9 a.m.: Angus Show, UDI Ring; Mule Show, The Onion Ring

    9:30 a.m.: Sheep Showmanship, 4-H/FFA, Show Ring 1 & 2

    10 a.m.: Llamas Halter, Western Town Barn

    Noon (events last all day): Antique Tractor Display, North of Expo Building; Fun With Physics & Puzzlemania, Gate F; Kids Ed Ctr & Spinning Demo, Llama Barn; Meet the Animals, Kids Corral; Simplot Ag Pavilion, North of Expo Building

    12:15 p.m.: District II Demos, 4-H Department

    12:30 p.m.: Skip Banks the Balloon Man, Roving

    1 p.m.: The Puppetman, Spectra Stage; How to Wash a Chicken, Small Animal Building; Jr. Tractor Driving, MyBullFrog.com Grandstand - West Sheep Barn; Milkshake Madness, Western Town Stage; Pig, Duck & Turkey Races, Gate C; Tractor Driving Contest, Carnival Grass

    1:15 p.m.: The Village Blacksmith, NE of North Expo

    1:30 p.m.: Alpacas 101, Llama Barn; Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, Kids Corral; Rabbit Showmanship, 4-H/FFA, Small Animal Building

    2 p.m.: Ada County Fashion Revue, Western Town Stage; Jeremy the Juggler, roving; Llama Obstacle Course, Western Town Barn

    2:30 p.m.: Comedian - Kenny Ahern, Spectra Stage; Tyzen the Hypnotist, Garden Stage

    3 p.m.: Pig, Duck & Turkey Races, Gate C; The Village Blacksmith, NE of North Expo; Wild About Monkeys, Bronco Motors Area

    3:30 p.m.: Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, Kids Corral; Skip Banks the Balloon Man, roving

    4 p.m.: District II Fashion Revue, Western Town Stage; Flowers-Iron Arranger-Amateur, Western Town DemoStation

    4:15 p.m.: The Puppetman, Spectra Stage

    4:30 p.m.: Alpacas 101, Llama Barn; Atomika - Rock Music, Garden Stage; Pig, Duck & Turkey Races, Service Gate

    5 p.m.: Flowers-Iron Arranger-Prof., Western Town DemoStation; Jeremy the Juggler, roving; Llama Gambler's Choice, Western Town Barn; Swine Showmanship, 4-H/FFA, Show Ring 1 & 2; The Plant for the Right Container, Floral Department; The Village Blacksmith, NE of North Expo

    5:30 p.m.: Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, Kids Corral; Pig, Duck & Turkey Races, Gate C; Contest - Roll for Dough, Western Town; Tyzen the Hypnotist, Garden Stage

    6 p.m.: Flower Bingo, Floral Department; Mule Show, The Onion Ring; Pygmy Goats, 4-H/FFA, Show Ring 3; Stick Mule Egg & Spoon Race, The Onion Ring; Comedian - Kenny Ahern, Spectra Stage; Wild About Monkeys, Bronco Motors Area

    6:30 p.m.: Atomika - Rock Music, Garden Stage; Skip Banks the Balloon Man, roving

    7 p.m.: Horse Costume Class, 4-H/FFA, D&B Arena; The Village Blacksmith, NE of North Expo

    7:30 p.m.: Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, Kids Corral; Tyzen the Hypnotist, Garden Stage

    7:45 p.m.: The Puppetman, Spectra Stage

    8 p.m.: Cruisin Crias, Llama Barn; Eggstravaganza Decorating Contest, 4-H/FFA, Small Animal Building; Jeremy the Juggler, roving; Rooster Crowing Contest, 4-H/FFA, Small Animal Building

    8:30 p.m.: Pig, Duck & Turkey Races, Gate C; Wild About Monkeys, Bronco Motors Area

    9:15 p.m.: Skip Banks the Balloon Man, roving; Comedian - Kenny Ahern, Spectra Stage

    9:30 p.m.: Atomika - Rock Music, Garden Stage

Dustin Noffsinger, owner of Dustin's Top Notch Camel Rides, said he was a bartender before making the switch to full-time camel wrangler four years ago.

"I kind of fell in love with the animal, and just went from there," he said. "I decided to purchase my own."

Now, visitors to the Western Idaho Fair can clamber onto Noffsinger's three camels: Big Al, Tonto and Eastwood, named for Clint Eastwood.

Big Al and Tonto hail from a California dairy farm. Eastwood was giving camel rides to Dollywood visitors when Noffsinger bought him. "The youngest one stayed home," he said of 2-year-old Walter, who is too young to carry a rider.

Contrary to many people's fears, Noffsinger's camels do not spit. Although camels are capable of it, he said, if they are cared for and treated gently, the animals rarely will.

They're just a piece of Noffsinger's menagerie.

His girlfriend, Miranda Davis, said the couple's 60-acre farm is home to 67 llamas, eight horses, eight cats, two sheep and a dog. The llamas, she said, do spit.

Noffsinger traveled from western Oregon for the fair. He brought along Davis and Kyle McGranahan, who help manage the camels.

The trio received their share of odd looks from fellow drivers when the camels stuck their heads out of the trailer on the highway, Davis said.

Rides cost $5. Riders perch on the animal's hump as it is led around the enclosure, Noffsinger said.

Big Al, Tonto, and Eastwood have carried riders ranging in age from 2 months to 92 years.

This is the herd's first year at the Western Idaho Fair.

"I ended up purchasing a third camel and decided we wanted to go to bigger fairs, and my son lives here in Boise, so that worked out perfect," Noffsinger said. "I can come see him, and give rides."

Friday afternoon, 9-year-old Eloise Dowling and 6-year-old Samantha Blomberg climbed atop the camels for trips around the enclosure. Both girls reported that they enjoyed their first-ever camel ride.

Noffsinger said business will likely be best in the evenings and on weekends. During a lull between riders, he kept an eye on Tonto, who was edging close to a tree in the enclosure to strip its bark.

"They have a mind of their own," Noffsinger said. "Every one of them has their own personality."

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

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