PLANO – Goats are one of Stephanie Leja of Chicago’s favorite animals, but she never thought she’d have the chance to hold a goat, pet a goat and paint with a goat – all in the same evening.
Leja and friends Nicole Decker of Aurora and Katie Pacilli of Romeoville attended the Painting with Goats event Dec. 20 at Arts on Fire, 217 E. South St. in Plano.
“Goats are one of my favorite animals, it’s just so exciting and fun to be here right now,” Leja said. “I love that the goats wander around. It’s relaxing and really nice to be around them.”
This was the second Painting with Goats event at Arts of Fire, after the success of the first one in November.
The next event will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31. Cost is $10 to reserve a seat, which covers snacks and goat interaction, a reduced price of $5 for a studio fee and the cost of the pottery piece, ranging from $10 to $45. Register online at www.artsonfireplano.com.
Ellen Beaulieu, owner of the goats and Blue Sky Farm Goat Yoga in Sugar Grove, said that painting with goats is “an entirely different experience from a petting zoo.”
“At petting zoos, I always get a chaotic feeling, and the goats are behind a fence,” Beaulieu said. “My goal is to have playful, one-on-one time with the goats that’s not rushed. You can cuddle them, pet them, even pick them up. So many people don’t get to experience that, and that’s what I hope to offer.”
Beaulieu met her husband, Ed, while in college, and their first date was going to a zoo.
“We are animal lovers, we’ve always had that in common,” Ed Beaulieu said. “So when we married and purchased a property, we knew we wanted to have animals on it.”
They have 16 Nigerian dwarf goats, three miniature horses, a miniature donkey and chickens on their farm. Blue Sky Farm Goat Yoga offers goat yoga classes, a goat yoga farm party, an animal farm party, one-on-one cuddling with goats and goats that can attend events.
“We started with three goats, then we had a pig, ducks, and we foster for Tails [Humane Society] in DeKalb,” Ellen Beaulieu said. “People can visit our farm to spend time with the animals, either one-on-one or as team building. We wanted to have that picturesque farm that’s welcoming and clean, like you’re going to visit your friends on the farm.”
Kelly Browning, owner of Arts on Fire, said that bringing the goats to her pottery studio seems to be a big hit.
“I first came across the idea through another studio in another state online,” Browning said. “Having the goats around while you paint takes painting to another level of calmness and relaxation. It’s a whole new experience. It’s nothing like a bull in a china shop, the goats are really laid back.
“Having them nearby as you paint or cuddling with them is good therapy,” she said.
Ed Beaulieu said he immediately saw a change in the people in the room when the goats were brought in.
“Everyone was smiling immediately,” he said. “Everyone began smiling and giggling, like they were kids again. I think the goats are what everyone needs. Life is stressful, but the goats bring excitement, fun and relaxation to our lives. It ties us directly with the arts. They calm you and help you become more creative. It gives people an opportunity to experience something new.”
Brenda Perkunas of Yorkville had painted at Arts on Fire before with her sons and heard about the Painting with Goats event. She came with her sister Bridget Ferreri of Naperville and her mom, Geri Eberhard of Montgomery.
“It was really relaxing and a lot of fun,” Perkunas said. “The goats were really calm. It was just really relaxing. I didn’t know goats could be relaxing.”
Leanna Precup of Aurora attended Painting with Goats for the second time.
“Last time, a goat fell asleep in my arms,” Precup said. “I like both painting and goats, so it’s the perfect fit. It’s a great experience and lots of fun.”