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Wednesday, February 20 , 2019, 6:38 am | Fair 41º


Exhibitors, Animals, Including Fire Evacuees, Arrive for Santa Barbara County Fair

With Alamo Fire as a backdrop, annual 5-day festivities get underway Wednesday at Santa Maria Fairpark


Along with the regular worries, some Santa Barbara County Fair junior livestock exhibitors had to deal with the Alamo Fire’s evacuations and road closures in getting their animals to the Santa Maria Fairpark.

Sunday signaled arrival day for the pigs, sheep, goats and beef, plus their handlers. Some youths arrived early with special permission due to evacuations related to the fire burning east of Santa Maria.

Emma Cosma was one of the Cinco Campanas 4-H Club members who took her pig to the fairgrounds before arrival day because of the fire. The club is based at Blochman School, 4949 Foxen Canyon Road.

“These guys got evacuated twice,” she said, adding that her pig was among animals evacuated to a nearby property, which in turn also ended up being evacuated.

On Sunday, she sat in the pen at the fairgrounds petting her slumbering pig to ease the stress, only waking the animal to feed it doughnut holes amid concerns about whether it would meet the limits for weigh-in Monday.

A few pens away, another evacuated pig, Albert Einswine, slept the afternoon away, well settled into the temporary living quarters while owner Owen Hammell hovered nearby.

The youth said he didn’t know how close the fire burned to the pig’s home until flames neared a vineyard.

“Then I was pretty worried,” he said.

Owen has participated in previous fairs, including raising a turkey, but decided to prep a pig this year.

“I think it’s mainly fun to do with a pig instead of a turkey because they’re kind of like dogs and really fun to raise,” he said.

His proceeds from the junior livestock auction will go toward paying for a college education and a car, he added.

Approximately 15 evacuated animals were housed at the Fairpark on Saturday night, CEO Richard Persons said.

Additionally, some evacuees took advantage of being allowed to bring recreational vehicles to the Adam Park camp site early, and stay, due to the fire.

“Normally, we don’t allow that until Sunday night when their animals are here, but I felt like the equipment was probably safer there with a few people around,” Persons said.

The 2017 Junior Livestock Auction has roughly the same number of animals as last year —165 beef, 305 sheep, 735 swine, 154 goats, 50 pygmy goats and 50 dairy goats.

On Sunday, a steady stream of trucks pulling livestock trailers of all types lined up near the barns to unload animals.

“It’s going extremely well,” said Rick Tomasini, the fair’s junior livestock superintendent, thankful for the cooler weather.

“Things are calm.”

While some exhibitors arrived early, he said others wound up making a four-hour trek from Cuyama because the fire forced the closure of Highway 166. The trip usually takes an hour.

Jenny Alaniz and other members of Carpinteria’s Playa del Sur 4-H Club also had a long trek from the southern tip to the northern edge of Santa Barbara County.

On Sunday afternoon near the beef barn, she groomed a patient Luna while leader Ron Vieira stood nearby.

The Carpinteria club members brought five beef plus nine sheep.

“It teachers them a lot of responsibility,” Vieira said of the benefits of raising and taking an animal to the fair.

“To finally get to show them off is pretty gratifying for them,” he added.

With the lengthy distance from Carpinteria to Santa Maria, members fill in for each other as needed, he added.

“In our group, it’s truly a team,” he said. “They all have to work together to make this happen.”

The county fair’s five-day run, with the theme of “Once Upon a Fair,” opens Wednesday at the fairpark, 937 S. Thornburg St. In addition to the carnival, new attractions are Perfection on Wheels BMX and skateboard stunt shows, plus the Bug Ology interactive exhibit serving up bugs and information about protein sources.

General admission during the fair is $8 for ages 6 to 11, $10 for ages 12 to 61, and $8 for 62 and older. Unlimited ride wristbands are $35.

Click here for more information or a schedule.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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