Ramona 4-H’ers score at San Diego County Fair
By Joe Naiman
A calf raised by Ramona 15-year-old Ali Gore was the supreme grand champion for veal at the San Diego County Fair.
Gore raised a Holstein calf she called Rufus, who weighed in at 489 pounds and was purchased at auction for over $18 a pound by Southern Contracting Company.
“I’m really happy and I can’t believe it,” Gore said. “It’s been a really great long journey.”
Gore spent 3-1/2 months raising Rufus, who she acquired from Ramona’s TD Dairy owned by the Van Tol family. A Holstein raised by 17-year-old Raeanne Van Tol was the supreme reserve champion for veal, and Ramona Paisanos 4-H garnered a second supreme reserve champion award from a swine raised by 16-year-old Christopher Wier.
Gore and Wier were sophomores at Ramona High School during the 2010-11 school year, and Van Tol completed her junior year at Ramona High.
This is Van Tol’s seventh year in 4-H, Wier has been in 4-H for three years, and Gore won her supreme grand champion award in her second year of the 4-H program.
“It was just another good year at the fair,” said Van Tol, who was the supreme grand champion in 2009 and won both supreme grand champion and supreme reserve champion in 2010.
The competition starts with breed class. Gore and Van Tol had Holstein veal cattle while Wier advanced to the supreme reserve champion level with a Hampshire cross which won the All Other Breeds class (Wier also won the Yorkshire class with that barrow).
There is a grand and reserve champion for each animal for 4-H and Grange members while the Future Farmers of America breed champions compete for the FFA grand and reserve champion.
Gore and Van Tol were the 4-H veal grand and reserve champions while Wier was the 4-H swine reserve champion. The 4-H and FFA grand and reserve champions then compete for supreme grand champion and supreme reserve champion honors.
“I’m really ecstatic,” Van Tol said of her supreme reserve champion award. “I raise my veal differently than everyone else, but it seems to be working.”
Because the family dairy owns the mother as well as the veal calf, the Holstein was not weaned until it was taken to the fair.
“I actually have my own cow that they drink off of,” Van Tol said.
Snoopy weighed 360 pounds on the fair scale after spending 3-1/2 months in Van Tol’s care. James DeSpenza of San Diego purchased the calf for $4.50 a pound during the auction. DeSpenza also purchased Van Tol’s calves in 2009 and 2010.
“I appreciate having his support,” Van Tol said. “I’ve just had such amazing people helping me and a great support system.”
The youngest of the four Van Tol sisters, Kaylin, made her fair debut this year, and Raeanne Van Tol helped her sister raise that calf.
“Four-H is like a family thing for us,” Van Tol said. “We just enjoy the fair so much.”
The supreme reserve champion swine is called Sassy Gold. The gilt was 286 pounds when she was weighed at the fair. Juicy’s River Cafe, which is in Needles, purchased her for $7 a pound but also made arrangements with the Wier family, which will allow Wier and Awesome Genetics, where Sassy Gold was purchased, to breed Sassy Gold later this year.
“I did great,” Wier said.
Although Wier has been in 4-H for three years, this was his second year raising a pig and his second year with an entry at the county fair. “I can’t wait for next year,” Wier said.
Wier spent between four and five months raising his pigs. Sassy Gold will likely give birth in December as the gestation period for a pig is three months, three weeks, and three days.
Wier, Sassy Gold, and Awesome Genetics also won the Bred and Fed award for the best pig bred and fed in San Diego County. Other major awards won by the Ramona Paisanos 4-H (Ramona Stars 4-H, Ramona Wranglers 4-H, and Ramona FFA won additional awards) included a 4-H master showmanship first place award in sheep for Lane Tarantino.
“It was just a great year for Ramona,” Van Tol said. “It was just an awesome year for all of us.”
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- County fair welcomes Musicpalooza Contest entries through March 31
- Ramona Junior Fair starts July 31
- San Diego County earns green award
- 19th Annual Ramona Junior Fair Barbecue & Pie Auction
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