Many young people in Oakdale are spending a lot of time and effort in getting their animals ready to exhibit for a 10-day run at the Stanislaus County Fair, July 12-21.
A lot is involved in getting animals ready for the fair. A proper feeding regimen involves constant monitoring and adjustments so the animal is at the right weight and readiness when it’s time to enter the show ring. There is special grooming, and a lot of time spent in making sure the animals are gentled and prepared to walk, stand still, and be cooperative so the judges can get a good look at them.
Sierra 4-H Club co-community leader Gina Morgan reported that they have 15 members exhibiting 54 market and breeding sheep, 15 members exhibiting 45 meat and breeding rabbits, and two members exhibiting two market hogs. The club also had exhibitors who showed horses at the fair.
“I think the quality of our animals goes pretty deep,” Morgan said of the Sierra contingent. “As a whole the group should do well. They’re working their animals and getting them ready for the fair instead of playing video games all summer.”
Morgan has hosted numerous species showmanship practices at her property, assisting 4-H and FFA members in learning more skills to best show their project animals. She said it’s about helping the kids learn.
“We’ve got a great group of kids. There’s a lot of unity,” Morgan said. “They work together as a group. Everybody helps each other.”
Sierra 4-H member Hope Kindred is showing a lamb and rabbits at the fair. She provided information about caring for rabbits and also showing them at the fair. She explained that every week they clean the rabbits’ cages and the barn, put fresh sawdust in the cages, and feed them grain and hay. Rabbits are susceptible to the heat, so keeping them cool is a must.
“Some people freeze two-liter bottles (of water) and the rabbits lean against it,” she said. “Lop rabbits will dip their ears in water. Their ears regulate their body temperature. The barn is cool. (We use) fans and occasionally misters.”
She added that at the fair, the rabbits are cooled by water cooler type fans.
At the fair, Kindred said the exhibitors handle the rabbits for showmanship but that the rabbits themselves are judged in their own classes in a different way.
Morgan added that rabbit judging is different than that of livestock judging. Rabbits are judged on a table and the judges don’t know who owns the rabbits, as there is no identification of who owns the rabbit. She said that it’s a fairer system and the judges use a book of standards for the various rabbit breeds.
Sierra 4-H swine exhibitor Garrett Lang is in his fourth year of 4-H and will show his market hog “Trigger” at the fair. He said that his goals for his pig right now are for it to keep cool, keep eating, and keep growing.
“I hope to have fun and have (Trigger) sell good and make market,” he said of his fair plans.
His younger sister Katriece, exhibiting for the first time this year, said she’s excited about showing in the market and showmanship classes with her pig “Paris.”
Sierra 4-H swine leader Larry Winters said that the Lang kids have learned a lot about feeding their hogs this year. He has some hopes for the young exhibitors and their hogs at the fair.
“My goal is for Katriece to come out of her shell a little bit. She’s doing such a good job with her pig,” he said.
His goal for Garrett’s pig is for it to make weight at the fair. The minimum weight for market hogs at the fair is 210 pounds and the maximum is 280 pounds.
“Garrett’s done an awesome job getting his pig to where he’s at… The pig is progressing nicely on weight,” Winters said.
Oakdale FFA member Melissa Thompson is working with her dairy replacement heifer “Sarabi,” walking her and practicing for presenting the heifer at her best in the show ring. She works on having Sarabi stand with her front feet together and one hind leg farther back than the other to show off the heifer’s udder in a side pose for the judge.
She’s also showing poultry at the fair for Orange Blossom 4-H club and has been working with her chickens for showmanship. In poultry showmanship, a physical exam of the bird is done for the judge by the exhibitor. Melissa will look for flaws, checking the beak, head, eyes, and comb, check the wings for bent feathers, mites or lice, and signs of injury or illness. As a poultry exhibitor, she also must walk her bird on a table, cage it, then exit the cage properly with the bird’s head first, and she’ll also have to answer questions about the species.
On Friday, July 19, the annual Rabbit and Poultry Auction will be at 6 p.m. The beef preview and buyer dinner will also be at 6 p.m. followed by the Fourth Annual Market Beef Auction.
The 49th Annual Junior Livestock Auction will take place on Saturday, July 20. Hogs will sell at 8a.m., followed by sheep and meat goats at 9 a.m. The Sale of Champions for hogs, sheep, and meat goats will be at 11 a.m.
There are many Oakdale 4-H and FFA exhibitors at the Stanislaus County Fair. Not only will they show animals, there are many that also have entries in sewing, photography, dog obedience, foods, and more.
See the fair’s website www.stancofair.com for more information on dates and times for different events during the fair.