Fair Week rocks! Madera Fair week, which took place this year in September, is a very important week for an “AGGIE” (Agricultural Student). The fair allows all of us FFA and 4-H members to interact and raise animals. I am in both programs at Minarets High School. They foster personal growth whether it is through FFA or through regular classes. Minarets High School takes great pride in its community and through teamwork of the students and staff. They help us work as a team in the barn and on campus in and out of our FFA community. They also like to promote responsibility and the “six Cs.” The “six Cs” help the students at Minarets High School feel at home and welcome. I know that I use the “six Cs” in my life, my school work, and my FFA career. The “six C’s” are: 1.) Critical Thinking, 2.) Competency, 3.) Creativity, 4.) Collaboration, 5.) Communication, and 6.) Community. That’s why I love Minarets High School and its Agricultural Program.
Both 4-H and FFA are beneficial to a student who is growing and wants to learn about animals. There are both positives and negatives to being in the FFA and the 4-H club. Some of the positives are: getting to raise your own animal, learning how to take care of animals, feeding and watering the animals, bathing the animals, and getting to spend a lot of time with them as well. Some of the negatives are: the animals can bite you, you have to clean up their fecal matter, bug bites, the money it can take to raise an animal, there is no time to yourself, it is a huge responsibility to raise an animal, there is a lot of worrying about the animal if you don’t visit it everyday, and if it doesn’t train well, it could be an unfit animal for judging and you could potentially handicap the animal.
Judging can be scary, but it is also fun. The best part about the whole event are the awards. To see all your hard work and effort put into action, and then to win on top of it, is a pure satisfaction. You will be nervous for the judging. I know I was. It always seems to make me the most nervous the last five minutes before I show my animal. Whether it be for Showmanship, where they judge you based on your knowledge of your animal and your cleanliness. Or for the actual judging of your animal. The actual judging of your animal is the most stressful. I always like to scope out the competitors and the judges before every competition. This way I get a feel for what the judges are looking for and I get to see what I am up against with the other competitors. I feel that the hardest part about the Showing isn’t even the animals, it’s trying to keep my “whites” clean. You have to wear a white shirt, white pants, white under garments, brown boots, and depending on which group you are with, either a blue jacket for FFA or a white hat and green scarf for 4-H.
Leading up to fair week, you need to prepare your animals for show and weigh-ins. You need to keep your animal on a strict diet and maintain its fur. Your animal is set on a feeding schedule. You want your animal to be in a certain weight group, depending on the animal. If your animal is overweight, you can be disqualified from the fair week. The judges want to see good muscle and fat balance on the animals. They look for control and tameness of the animal. They want to see how well you have kept your animal clean and how well you have trained your animal. They check for illness, weight, hair loss or bald spots, nails/ hooves, eyes, joints, and ears.
I introduced my rabbit for the first time this year. My rabbit won First place in Junior Doe Class out of 30 rabbits. My rabbit also won Best Opposite Breed. I received 7th place in Showmanship. My rabbit made me very proud. It is a soft white and brown Holland Lops.
I am currently training a Boer male Goat. He weighs 69 lbs. He has been washed and I make him look nice, clean cut, and pretty for fair. For the weigh-in day at the fair, you need to wash and feed your animal more than usual to have them gain that extra pound or two they lost in transport. We weigh-in the goat again on the day of the show. That weigh-in is important because the goat is for sale as a meat animal. That means the someone will buy the animal for consumption. That is the saddest part of the whole event. It breaks my heart every year.
If you haven’t gone to see the animal at the fair yet, try to get down there next year to support your local FFA and 4-H members for all their hard work and to see what they have accomplished with their animals. You will be able to see goats, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, horses, ducks, and more.
To conclude, the Madera Fair is a long awaited fair for us FFA and 4-H members. We train, feed and water, and keep our animals up to FFA and 4-H regulations to be judged and shown for auction. We are judged on our animals and our appearance. This year I was a new trainer for the rabbits and a two-year-in-a-row trainer for the goats category. I have put in a lot of hard work and effort with these animals. It is all about the learning experience for the “AGGIEs.” I love what I get to do everyday.