Work Is Almost Done For 'Farmer John'

“Farmer John” gets a hug from his 2-year-old border collie, Bunches, during a performance at the Barnyard Express show on Tuesday at the Auglaize County Fair.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Managing Editor

Fairgoers at the Auglaize County Fair will be getting a treat and they won’t even know about it.

“Farmer John,” with his “Barnyard Express” sitting roughly 100 yards inside the main fair entrance on the midway, will be performing in his final fair after 27 years of entertaining children with farm jokes and education.

“I have enough money not to do it anymore so I decided I want to retire and do some other things while I’m still young enough,” he said. 

John Forshee, better known as “Farmer John,” takes his Barnyard Express to fairs throughout the eastern to mid-western portion of the country. He also performs at school assemblies and birthday parties. 

“I like educating the kids about the farm animals, but my favorite thing is being in front of a good audience and telling all my jokes,” he said.

The Michigan native said he has traveled to New York state, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois with his farm animals of pigs, sheep, mini horse, goats, dogs and a cow.

Forshee actually got his start by studying farming operations at Iowa State University. 

He later developed and managed the Domino’s Pizza Petting Farm in Ann Arbor, Michigan for six years and during that time, he gave hundreds of animals shows, helping thousands of children experience the “farm.” 

In 1993, Forshee developed the mobile educational farm center, entitled “Barnyard Express.”

The barnyard show is designed for groups up to 150 and is suitable for both pre-school and kindergarten through third grade.

The Barnyard Express show usually entails having children feed pigs and goats, tricks with his dogs and demonstrations with goats and pigs — all while serving as a form of education about the everyday farm animals.

He said he keeps his goats all year around and for as long as he can before selling them in the offseason when they get too big. Come spring, he buys lambs, pygmy goats, six pigs and three or four calfs. 

Forshee also has three dogs, with Bunches — his 2-year-old black border collie — being the newest member of the Forshee “farm.” He also has Popcorn, but does not use him for shows too much anymore because he barks too often and Smudge — the dog he used in shows at last year’s county fair — is 10 years old.

“I’ve done more shows with him than any dog that I have ever had,” he said. “I put a lot into them when they are young and then when they get older and they know everything, I can spend less time with them.”

Forshee said Aug. 9 will be his last event, but Auglaize County will be his last fair. 

After he leaves Wapakoneta, Forshee said he has nine events in six days — all back home in Michigan before the sun sets on the farm one last time. 

He said no one is going to continue the farm, but if someone wanted to, he would sell it to anyone interested.

“I made this little tiny camper — I call it the box — put it on my truck and go out west,” he said. “I plan on taking pictures, relax ing — I’ll probably go to Alaska — and I would like to take my dogs on a walk to the woods every day.”