This week, the Santa Barbara County Fair returns to Santa Maria with local 4-H students in high anticipation of this week's competitions.
"It has been a little chaotic and stressful," laughed 4-H student Priscilla Smith, 15, who is entering an animal for competition for the first time this year. "It teaches you a lot; how to manage your money, how to take care of animals. It is a good learning experience."
Following two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first year livestock competition is back in full force.
"The kids really missed it these past two years," said swine leader of Bonita 4-H, Cheryl Moore. "2020 was really hard on the kids because they had their animals ready to go to the fair and then there was no fair due to COVID."
Moore says that is partly the reason behind the smaller number of entries this year.
"The numbers across the board are down for all the species of animals. I think part of it is so many people were uncertain of what it was going to be like to be back and have the auction," she added.
Moore's son, Wyatt Fejes, is entering his pet rabbit, "Dutch," in the competition.
"I've been feeding him very good and giving him lots of water and cleaning his pen," the 9-year-old said.
"It teaches responsibility, it teaches money management, above all to be kind to everybody. It teaches everybody to work together as a team and to be grateful," Moore said.
Both Fejes and Smith have their animals entered for showmanship competitions. Each 4-H student reflected on what it was like learning and getting their four-legged companions ready for the fair.
"He did not like being picked up," Fejes laughed when talking about his rabbit. "He liked being held, but he did not like being picked up."
"I go out there, make sure his feed is all gone. I walk him, brush him and spray him down, make sure he is cool, not overheating or anything," Smith added. "Then I come out in the evening, and I do it all again."
All 4-H students at the Fairpark had their animals weighed Monday and competitions will take place throughout the rest of the week.
The fair officially opens to the public this Wednesday and will run through this Sunday, July 17.
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