BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — FFA and 4-H students work all year, for hours every day, to take care of their animals and prepare them to show. For many, the fair is the culmination of all their hard work.
“I love it. The fair has always been a huge part of my life," said 5th grader Macen Sawyer, who shows market goats and phantom chickens.
Sawyer said she's been showing for 4 years.
But last year, due to COVID-19, the normal competitions were virtual and reduced to a minute-long video showcase.
“My club, we just didn’t have a good year and being online was really really hard," said Colbie Sawyer, a 4-H student with Rio Del Norte. "It was hard for me to take in, and I had a good goat for that year but I didn’t get to show him. It was hard to not be able to come here and be with my family, my 4-H family and not be able to be with all of them.”
Sawyer placed first in her class this year at the fair. She said in previous years she wasn’t as focused on showing, but especially after not getting to show last year, winning first place was even sweeter.
“I was like on the verge of tears.”
For these students, every day is a stepping stone towards their goals of showing their animals. that includes waking up early to feed and take care of animals before school and practicing with them for hours every week.
“It pays off what you put into it, but it was really tough, I had to find my own buyer and everything. Had to outsource," said Levi Rowden, FFA student with Taft High School.
Rowden says he’s looking forward to showing his steer “Granger” — continuing a family tradition of just like his cousin and his brother.
Even though last year students were able to submit videos for virtual auctions — with so many hours and days of work spent caring for these animals, these students look forward to the fair as more than just a competition.
“It’s what I look forward to every year from start to finish. It’s what I practice for all year and it feels like home here," said 4-H student Jenzy Gagliardini.
Livestock competitions will continue Sunday for 4-H and FFA competitors — including Rowden and his steer "Granger." The fair will hold its parade of champions starting at 5 p.m.