By Regina Elling
Whether it was their first time or they were seasoned veterans, participants in the annual livestock show at the Ramona Junior Fair took to the ring on a hot Aug. 4.
It was easy to spot the newcomers. If their tense smiles and stiff movements didn’t give them away, the relief on their faces as they left the arena after the successful sale of their animals did.
For others, the routine was old hat. Some chose to show off a little, while others gave it all they had, to the delight of the crowd, and their parents.
In the end, the livestock show was a success by all accounts. In addition to the individual monies raised from the sale of their livestock, the junior fair—the 41st annual—has few equals in teaching local and area youth about teamwork, achieving goals, continuing education, and the value of leaders and friends.
On auction day, for example, Angus Tobiason described himself as “all puffed up and a very proud grandpa.” That’s because two of his grandsons, Andrew and Brandon Hankins, were big winners the day before.
“I took Reserve Grand Champion with my steer, Rosco,” said 17-year-old Andrew, a member of the Ramona Paisanos 4-H
Club. “Last year I took Grand Champion, but this year, my little brother beat me out.”
His younger sibling, 13-year-old Brandon, also a Paisano, quickly replied, “It’s cool to win with my brother. Snoose is an Angus cross steer, and a lot of work. I had to halter break him and walk him every day.”
It paid off. Snoose was this year’s Grand Champion Steer.
Showing livestock may be in the Hankins’ blood. Their parents, Dave and Debbie Hankins, have been 4-H supporters for years. Debbie, according to her dad, Angus, grew up in 4-H, just as he did.
“I’ve been involved with 4-H almost 50 years,” said Tobiason. “My kids and now my grandkids are still very active in the junior fair. Ten or 15 years from now, we hope the kids showing today will still be keeping our junior fair in good shape.”
Meanwhile, some of the newer competitors were drawing strength from their family and friends. Some were sad to lose animals they had grown attached to, some were worried they would not raise at least a break even amount at the sale, others were concerned they would simply not show off their charges as well as they deserved. Many wanted to make sure the producers of their animals were properly recognized and thanked.
Most of their fears were unfounded. The crowd, ever supportive and mindful of the hard work the youngsters had put into the fair, joked with them, cheered them on, and rewarded the high bidders, livestock producers, and youth equally.
“This is livestock raised right, carefully chosen, raised in the fresh air, exercised every day, and treated humanely,” one buyer explained to a novice purchaser. “It gives the kids proper values for the time they become livestock producers themselves.”
Choices for buyers were plentiful. Hogs, rabbits, goats, chickens, lambs, veal calves, turkeys, and beef calves were among the many animals raised by the youth. The kids themselves came from 4-H, FFA, and Grange groups in Ramona, Mission Trails, Warner Springs, Santa Ysabel, Julian, Poway, Pauma Valley, Valley Center, Fallbrook, and San Marcos.
As the evening drew to a close, some of the youngsters were happily discussing what they would do with their earnings. Participants had to track the purchase and feeding cost of their animals, stay on budget, and hopefully sell their stock for more than they invested. Much of the sale earnings were earmarked for future college education or internships.
“I’ve been saving my money for a couple of years now,” said one competitor, who asked not to be identified. “But I don’t want my brother to know how much I have. He might try to borrow it.”
Despite that little secret, the rest of the event was a success story that both adults and youth hope to retell every year. The
buyers support the participants who work hard to raise quality animals, and the youngsters, in turn, learn about the true value of community. This year’s fair proves it’s a lesson Ramona has taken to heart for more than 40 years.