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Exhibitors Prep For County Fair
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Oakdale FFA member Sierra Mahan gives her fair market hog “Bullwinkle” a drink of water out of the garden hose while Bullwinkle cools off in her “piggy pool” during a recent hot day. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader
Oakdale FFA members and local 4-H club members are preparing their projects to exhibit at the Centennial of the Stanislaus County Fair that runs July 15-24.
On July 6, Oakdale FFA member Sierra Mahan had her market hog “Bullwinkle,” a Hampshire crossbred, weighed by Oakdale FFA Ag teacher Bob Joseph to check on the hog’s progress for the fair.
“She’s on the right track now,” Mahan said about her hog that day. “We’ve got about another week to make final adjustments for State Fair.
Mahan entered Bullwinkle at the California State Fair, which starts July 14 where only the champions sell. If Bullwinkle doesn’t garner a champion ribbon at State Fair, she’ll be released early and will compete at the County Fair. However, if Bullwinkle does sell at State Fair, Mahan has a backup plan and has another hog ready to go for County Fair, too.
“Pigs are everything to me,” she said. “I’m so excited. I can’t wait for the fair.”
Mahan, who will be a senior at Oakdale High School, has shown hogs for several years, first starting in 4-H. She’s learned a lot about getting them ready for the fair, as her older brother also showed hogs before her. Mahan’s hogs each have special recipes of feed mixtures that they eat to put the right amount of “finish” on them for market.
Each day she also takes her pigs out of the barn and, knowing the way, they walk to the lawn area behind her family home. There, Bullwinkle and another hog named Rocky walk right in and lay down in a plastic kiddy pool filled with water. Hogs don’t have sweat glands, so it’s important for them to be able to cool off.
The day Mahan had Bullwinkle weighed, she noted that such activities can stress the hogs a little, so going to the kiddy pool is a treat. Bullwinkle lounged in the pool while Mahan sprayed her with water from the garden hose, the hog also drank water from the hose, and surprisingly, even blew bubbles with her snout in the water.
Fellow Oakdale FFA member Logan Douglas is also a swine-showing veteran and entered his market hog “Arnold” at this year’s County Fair.
“He’s a little heavy, but okay. I just need to make an adjustment,” Douglas said about his hog’s feed program.
“It’s easier to cut back (on feed) than push them real hard (to gain weight),” Ag teacher Joseph added.
Oakdale FFA will have 13 beef exhibitors, nine swine exhibitors, five sheep exhibitors, three dairy replacement heifer exhibitors, two meat goat exhibitors, two dairy goat exhibitors, two poultry exhibitors, and one rabbit exhibitor at this year’s Stanislaus County Fair.
The Oakdale 4-H clubs including Sierra, Valley Home, Orange Blossom, and River Oaks will also send exhibitors to the fair in the aforementioned livestock competitions, as well as to compete in the building exhibits. Horse exhibitors recently finished competing at the County Fair.
This year, there is no Oakdale Junior Livestock Booster Club; therefore, livestock buyers are needed for Oakdale 4-H and FFA exhibitors at the Stanislaus County Fair. Potential buyers are encouraged to contact the exhibitors directly or contact the 4-H leaders or the FFA advisors for information about animals still in need of a buyer.
“The market steers are market ready,” said Oakdale FFA Ag teacher and Sierra 4-H club beef group leader Ed Hartzell. “It’s good to educate the kids to raise a steer that’s a proper consumable product.”
Ag teacher Joseph commented that it’s cheaper to go to the fair and buy a beef than to go to the store and buy that same amount of meat. Joseph said that while prices may be above or below, a good average for a beef at the fair is $1.15-$1.30 per pound and for hogs and lambs, it’s in the neighborhood of $2.80-$3 per pound. He also noted that meat goats have similar price per pound to sheep but a higher resale value.
The Junior Livestock Auction for Market Steers will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 21 at the Livestock Thurman Pavilion. The Small Animal Auction for rabbits and poultry is at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 22, to be followed at 7 p.m. by dairy replacement heifers, both in the Thurman Pavilion. The 47th Annual Junior Livestock Auction for swine, sheep, and meat goats will sell, in that order, on Saturday, July 23 starting at 8 a.m. The selling of the champions – the top four in each species – will sell at 11 a.m. that day, also in the Thurman Pavilion.
A few changes have been instituted at this year’s county fair. Hartzell explained that one new policy is that exhibitors are allowed to take two market animals to the fair, but they must be of different species, and only one animal may sell in the livestock auction.
Hartzell and Joseph both stated that crowding in the barns has been an issue and this policy partly addresses that. Additionally, Hartzell said dairy exhibitor numbers at the county fair are down this year because some are taking their show strings of cattle to the State Fair instead, which overlaps with County Fair, but it does make more room in the County Fair barns.
Because of the California State Fair overlap with the Stanislaus County Fair, Hartzell said some Oakdale exhibitors, especially beef exhibitors have had to choose which fair to enter their livestock because of the show days. Along with the FFA beef exhibitors, Hartzell also has 10 beef exhibitors from Sierra 4-H who will show at the County Fair, the majority of them will show breeding beef. For Oakdale FFA, only a few of their swine exhibitors will participate in both fairs this year. Sierra 4-H has members exhibiting swine and sheep at both fairs.
Of note, the county fair’s Master Showmanship competition will be at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 21.
Opening night of the fair on Friday, July 15 will be $1 carnival ride night, when all rides will be priced at $1. Unlimited carnival ride wristbands may be purchased in advance until Thursday, July 14 at 7p.m. for $23 in person at Valley First Credit Union branches, including Oakdale, or online at and are good for any one day. At fair time, they will be $30 and good on the day purchased. The website also contains more information about special attractions and schedules for the fair.