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Beyond the Barn … Memories at Mid State Fair

Written by: Riley O’Connor, Chapter Secretary

The San Luis Obispo High School Farm house animals almost ten months out of the year. Our chapter welcomed heifers and steers back in October and eventually our lamb, swine, and even goat projects followed as the preparation for the California Mid State fair began. Our animals were raised by FFA students as an extension to our classroom and SAE projects as a way to provide more hands on experience for students enrolled in Agriculture classes. These members of our chapter were responsible for the health, care, and development of their animals while also working on their showmanship skills. In order to exhibit animals with our chapter students must also be involved on a leadership committee and do 10 hours of community service. Throughout the week of fair our members experienced record breaking temperatures, a power outage, and thousands of people who entered the fairgrounds, yet SLO FFA shined in the ring.

Chickens and Turkeys:


Beginning the first Tuesday of fair we had members competing with their poultry animals. This year marked one of the first years SLO FFA showed turkeys, and it was a good thing because John Martinek had the Grand Champion Hen. Representing our chapter while showing her chickens, Bella Mardern exhibited the Champion Bantam and earned Best of Show Poultry Project.

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The SLO FFA Swine group had an amazing fair despite hot temeratures and health challenges. In the swine barn, over 30 students spent eight days at the fair showing, marketing, and auctioning their swine projects. Overall, the group earned Reserve Champion Chapter, with other titles including Amanda Ardantz Champion Light All Other Breeds, Genevieve Gilham Reserve Champion Dark All Breeds,  Annika Ernstrom Fourth Place Overall Novice Showmanship and Erin Lewis Ninth Overall in Advanced Showmanship . Our swine members would also like to thank the Silva Family for the guidance and support throughout the whole livestock process.



Our chapter found huge success in the sheep barn with the 15 students showing this year. Overall they placed third for our chapter along with Ty Evans earning Reserve Champion FFA Suffolk Lamb and Stella Boller receiving Reserve Champion FFA Natural Lamb for their market classes. For showmanship which took place on Thursday July 26, Megan Fragasso achieved Reserve Champion Novice Showman and Sydney McGovern, Stella Boller, and Bella Marden made it to the Advanced Final Drive. 

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SLO FFA has not had members show goats in a couple years, yet they were still very competitive and successful. The three members with their goat projects earned Reserve Champion Pen of Meat Goats as well as Sydney McGovern earning Reserve Champion Advanced Showman and Elena Grant earning Champion Novice Showman.


Over in the Beef Barn SLO FFA tasted victory as our nearly 15 members showing cattle prepared for the ring. For Advanced Beef Showmanship we had 8 exhibitors in the Final Drive, amounting for ⅓ of the competition. Super Seniors Thomas Phelan and Jacob Grant came in first and second. They were followed by Camille Descamps in fifth, Lindsay Haggard in sixth, and Sydney McGovern in eighth place.



As the California Mid State Fair was coming to an end, our students auctioned off their animals  on Saturday July 28 in order to help feed families all over the nation. As the San Luis Obispo Chapter, we would like to express our gratitude to the parents, local businesses, and the Woods-Claeyssen Foundation for supporting our exhibitors at the 2018 Junior Livestock Auction. A huge thank you goes out to all the incredible staff working in the Livestock Office, Dr. Lyons, and CA Mid State Fair Heritage Foundation. Our members, albeit a little tired, are already looking forward to next year!

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