Farm children bringing their animals to LA County Fair to be judged and then sold at auction, sometimes with tears, was once a pillar, but times and priorities changed.
Fewer children participated, the fair withdrew support, bidders were absent and after 2007 the program ended.
In 2022, for the centenary of the fair, I’m happy to report that livestock competitions are back. As before, children and adults from all over California are bringing animals. The fair opened on May 5th and closes on May 30th.
“Since it is our centenary, we thought it was important to reconnect with agriculture,” fair spokeswoman Renee Hernandez told me.
Reconnecting with agriculture is not easy. For one thing, where is it? Most of the animals we encounter in our daily lives are mates who seek to talk to the manager.
And after 15 years without, the fair has to rebuild a livestock program from scratch. We will see if there is the will to stay with him and if the answer is there to justify the effort.
The fair has not been without agriculture. A garden is cultivated all year round with exotic fruits and vegetables. An Oklahoma Livestock Supervisor brought hundreds of animals to sit on, in a timely manner to produce dozens of live births each fair.
now a zoo with goats, sheep and more run by Cal Poly Pomona. And livestock competitions are back, in barns that for the last 15 years held static exhibitions like olive oil.
“We are trying to bring all aspects of 4-H and FFA back to the fair,” says Don DeLano, who manages the fair farm and has been a full-time employee since 1992. “It has been challenging to get back together. .what was divided. “
There is even less local agriculture to produce in advance, with almost all local dairies being shut down or removed.
“We used to get 400 cattle. Our last show, we had nine shows. “You can not direct such a show,” says DeLano.
While competitions are back, auctions are not. Maybe in two or three years, says DeLano. One step at a time.
But the return of the cattle has a good start. The first weekend without pygmy goat races. This weekend there will be more action.
“The big show is the sheep show this weekend,” says Sasha Turnbull, the race coordinator, checking the entries for me on her computer. “It looks like 215 sheep, 66 angora goats and 13 cattle.”
The performances will take place starting at noon on Saturday for the sheep and at noon on Sunday for the cattle. The public can view the judgment, which includes factors such as performance and quality.
Attendance by 4-H and FFA this weekend is mostly about cattle, but the third weekend we will see Boer goats from different groups of youngsters as well as rabbits and llamas. The fourth and final weekend before the fair closes will feature goats and dairy birds.
When I visit him on Wednesday afternoon, only one sheep trailer has arrived.
Terry Mendenhall traveled from Loma Rica, north of Sacramento, where she owns a 32-acre farm. Mendenhall and three others pooled their resources to bring 55 sheep.
When I meet her in the barn, 73-year-old Mendenhall is in a pen, sliding a harness over a delightful nearly 150-pound sheep she calls “a troubled child” before taking him to another pen.
The sheep are going around me “baaa, baaa, baaa”. It’s a sound we can all identify with, but most of us rarely hear it in real life.
Mendenhall traverses me in her line of pens.
“These big tall girls are Rambouillet,” she says, passing to the black Romneys, the black-faced Shropshires, and the Merinos in white, gray, brown, and black. She still holds a white Merino sheep and uses her fingers to split some fur down to the skin.
I stroked the wool coat, about two inches thick. It’s soft. She sells wool to weavers and spinners, 8 or 10 pounds per sheep, and gets up to $ 250 per pound.
Why travel 450 miles to Pomona? There may be good contacts to establish. It is good for agriculture in general. And then there are the races.
“There are 13 classes in a division. The first place is $ 50. “If I’m first in all 13 classes,” Mendenhall argues, “it will pay my fuel bill to come here.”
She participated in the LA County Fair from the early 1990s until open livestock ceased. She is pleased that the cattle are welcome again and likes relocating the fair in May.
“It’s beautiful, especially since it’s fresher. “September was bad,” says Mendenhall. I like talking to kids: ‘Food comes from farms, not grocery stores.’ “We try to get people to support agriculture.”
Cecilia Parsons brought 14 Shetland sheep, one of the smallest breeds, from Ducor, which is north of Bakersfield.
“They are weird, but they have to pay for it themselves. This is one way to do it. “If I take them to three or four fairs during the summer,” Parsons explains, “they will pay for their food.”
She is another farmer who was regular at the fair until 15 years ago.
“There’s a grape vine with sheep,” jokes Parsons. “A friend who lives down here said she heard they were bringing cattle. We were all very skeptical. “We did not think it would happen.”
But it happened, and here they are.
Parsons, a former journalist, held the fair in the years that passed. She read how the fair had become more of a trading venture – as she puts it “functioning as an exchange meeting” – under previous management.
She is happy, obviously, to see a renewed focus on animals.
“We have always been told that livestock is the reason why people come to the fair. “People need to know where their lamb chops come from,” says Parsons. “If this is a county fair, it’s supposed to be a county fair.”
Message for the previous, highly manicured repetition of the fair: Baaa.
As a reminder, this weekend I will sell and sign my new book“100 Years Los Angeles County Fair, 25 Years Stories,” from noon to 2pm Saturday at the backyard fairground of the Millard Sheets Art Center and doing the same after a reading, conversation and question and answer session from 2 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Cafe con Libros, 280 W. Second St. in Pomona.
David Allen writes on Fridays, Sundays and Wednesdays and sells as many books as he can. Email [email protected], phone 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @ davidallen909 on Twitter.
Livestock at the LA County Fair returns after 15 years – Daily Bulletin Source link Livestock at the LA County Fair returns after 15 years – Daily Bulletin