Back at the fair

Participants say they learn a lot from animal husbandry at the San Mateo County Fair. Tribune file photo

Some students look forward to the San Mateo County Fair all year long as they show the livestock they raised. After a year’s hiatus, the fair is back and participants are thrilled.

Pacifica 4-H member Gabe Harmon is just finishing his freshman year at Terra Nova High School. He raised a lamb, a goat, two turkeys and four chickens to show at the fair. He said he looks forward to the fair all year.

“In my opinion, the livestock barn is the best exhibit of the fair,” said Harmon. “4-H members work really hard all year raising livestock to show at the fair, including steer, pigs, lambs, goats, turkey and chickens. The barn is full of animals.

“Come visit us at the fair, see our beautiful animals and learn how much fun 4-H is,” he said. “Any new 4-H member is always welcome.”

Harmon goes to the 4-H farm behind Linda Mar Educational Center to care for his animals every day. He said the pig is his favorite to raise because of each pig’s unique personality, but he is not raising one this year.

Kaiden and Megan Barry Schoen, Pacifica 4-H members, are twins just finishing their freshman years in high school, Kaiden at Drew School in San Francisco and Megan at Santa Catalina School, a boarding school near Monterey.

Kaiden is showing a lamb, turkey and a pig. Megan is showing a pig.

“I like 4-H because I like to meet new people and play a leadership role,” said Kaiden. He said the fair is different this year due to COVID-19, but the livestock and 4-H parts are the same.

Megan said 4-H taught her a lot about animals, agriculture and leadership.

“You can meet a lot of other kids,” she said. “It taught me a lot about caring for animals and the responsibility of feeding them.”

Kaiden said 4-H members can do many different things, not just show animals.

“It takes a lot of time out of your day and you have to work hard to show your animal. It takes a lot to care for an animal,” he said.

Wyatt and Bailey Gunning and Brandon Melo, 4-H members from Half Moon Bay, brought livestock exhibits this year.

Melo just finished fifth grade at Hatch Elementary School. He showed two hogs he raised at a 4-H farm in San Gregorio. It’s his second year in 4-H.

“They are really smart and fun,” he said. “I like 4-H for the friends and I like to work with animals.”

He said he probably won’t pursue a career working with animals, but has enjoyed raising them and taking care of them for a year. When the animals are sold, the money goes to next year’s supplies, he said.

Wyatt Gunning is entering fourth grade at La Honda Elementary School. It’s his first year in 4-H. He is showing a pig and chickens.

“I like that you can play with the animals,” he said.

His big sister, Bailey, finished sixth grade at Cunha Intermediate School. She showed four chickens and a pig she raised at the same San Gregorio farm. It’s her third year in 4-H.

“You have a lot of time to get to know them and what they like. The chickens make a lot of noise,” she said, “I like 4-H because you get to spend a lot of time with the animals. It’s a good place to make friends.”

The 4-H livestock exhibits end with a youth livestock auction for 4-H and others to sell their animals.

The fair also features main stage concerts, a carnival, agricultural exhibits, food and craft exhibits and more. Makers and craftspeople compete in various exhibits including quilting, but the home show exhibit was canceled this year due to COVID-19. The arts and photography exhibits are still on display.

The San Mateo County Fair runs through June 13. Fair hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Capacity is limited to 35 percent to allow for social distancing.

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