A crew of weed-eating goats returns to Riverside Park this week

July 6, 2023

Image courtesy of the Riverside Park Conservancy

A voracious crew of goats will return to the Upper West Side on Friday to help clear out hard-to-reach weeds in Riverside Park. Known as “Goatham,” the event marks the fourth consecutive year that the Riverside Park Conservancy has welcomed in a team of goats to clear out invasive species. This year’s celebration has been made more grandiose with the first-ever Goatham Festival on Friday, July 7 at 11 a.m., which will host four esteemed goats as guests for a “ribbon chewing” ceremony for the opening of the new Compost Compound on 95th Street.

For many years, the Conservancy struggled with removing invasive species from Riverside Park. While significant progress has been made from 116th to 119th Streets and along the West Side Highway north of the 119th Street Tennis Courts, it has proved incredibly difficult to remove plants from areas with steep slopes. That’s where goats come in.

Goats are notorious for their ability to navigate extremely steep and jagged surfaces, as well as their gigantic appetites. Since the Conservancy came up with the idea four years ago, the goats have helped to reduce some of the park’s hardest-to-control invasive species, including Porcelain Berry, English Ivy, Mugwort, and Multiflora Rose. The goats are even able to munch down on Poison Ivy without any difficulty, and their fecal matter adds important nutrients to the soil as they go.

Over the course of the season, the goats will call a two-acre woodland area between 119th and 122nd Streets their home, continuously eating invasive plants as they grow, stunting their normal growth trajectory and in many cases, eliminating the growth of the plants altogether.

Goatham usually kicks off with the “Running of the Goats,” which lets the public witness the moment the goats are let out of their truck and run into the weed-filled hills of the woodland area. However, to celebrate the opening of the brand-new 95th Street Compost Compound, the event will happen on a grand scale.

The Goatham Festival will take place on Friday, July 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Four goats, Cowgirl, Chico, Charlie, and Mallomar, will help open the 95th Street Compost Compound. The event will include local vendor booths, live music, goat-themed merchandise, arts and crafts, and more. Like in previous years’ Goathams, the public will be able to vote on which of the participating goats is the G.O.A.T., or the greatest of all time.

You can RSVP for the festival here.


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