With the hectic pace of Sunday’s arrival behind them, FFA, 4-H and Junior Grange members and their livestock projects waited patiently for their turns at Monday’s weigh-in at the Santa Maria Fairpark.
“It’s kind of exciting and sad,” Cierra Green of the Lompoc FFA said as she sat in the pen quietly petting her sleeping pig, Darla, on Monday morning.
Nearby, Edgar Ayala was more than ready to brag about Rosanne, his 262-pound swine project.
“I have to say she’s the best pig I’ve had in all four years I’ve been doing this,” Edgar said. “She’s just so obedient. She’s just a beautiful pig to me.”
Although the 2014 Santa Barbara County Fair doesn’t open until Wednesday, the FFA, 4-H and Junior Grange members who entered animals in the junior livestock events got an early start. They arrived Sunday at the fairpark.
Weigh-in plus a quick check by a veterinarian are crucial hurdles for the animals and those who raised them.
“If you don’t make weight, you go home,” said Candy Evenson, junior livestock superintendent.
As she watched the cattle waiting to be weighed, she noted they look good even with the drought.
“If you look at the cattle out there, they look beautiful,” she said as animals and their handlers waited in the chute for weigh-in.
The championship drive starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday followed by the Junior Livestock Auction all day Saturday.
This year, the fair has 692 market pigs, about 100 fewer than last year.
“Everything else is up,” Evenson said.
Also entered are 286 market lambs, 37 breeding lambs, 41 breeder pigs, 83 market goats, 82 replacement heifers, 74 steers, 50 breeding cattle, 33 breeding boar goats, 68 dairy cattle and 17 pygmy goats.
Carpinteria-based Playa Del Sur 4-H brought five steers and three lambs to the fair along with nine members.
“It’s actually my last year so it’s bittersweet,” Crystal Arroyo of Carpinteria said.
Raising steers is an eight-month project, so club members build a rapport with their animals, she noted.
“What I really enjoy about it is meeting new people,” said A.J. Martinez of Playa Del Sur 4-H, adding that he also has learned responsibility and finances through his steer project.
He works two jobs to help purchase feed and supplies.
“My parents offered to help me but I chose not to,” he said.
Playa Del Sur leader Ron Vieira said the program teaches respect and responsibility to the youths, plus he has seen them improve their social and public-speaking skills.
“They’re all incredible kids,” he said.
Vieira said he used to believe he helped the kids raise the livestock.
“This year, I came to realize I’m helping the livestock raise better kids,” he said.
The Santa Barbara County Fair open Wednesday and runs through Sunday with gates open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
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