The Santa Barbara County Fair kicked off Wednesday, with hundreds of kids taking their cows, pigs, goats and other livestock to the Santa Maria Fairpark for auction.
The annual fair draws South San Luis Obispo County students with Future Farmers of America and 4-H clubs from across the Central Coast to the fairgrounds to show off the animals they’ve spent months raising and preparing to be sold.
In the cattle pens, kids were washing, brushing and even blow drying their cows, trying to make them look their best before heading out to be judged.
Among them was 17-year-old Lauren Ritchie, of the Arroyo Grande FFA, who was taking her steer, Winston, for a gulp of water as the early morning heat began to lay in.
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“He’s a lot better (than previous animals),” she said laughing and shaking her head. “He’s just really curious. We have a light on his pen, and he likes to chew the electrical cord.”
To that, Winston wiggled his ears and nudged the water bucket he was gulping from with his nose.
Ritchie said this was her second year showing at the fair.
“I really like animals, and it’s fun to see all your hard work pay off,” she said. “It teaches us hard work and dedication, and a lot of skills for later on. Like I want to be a vet, and this helps with that.”
Besides livestock, the annual fair also offers an assortment of activities such as requisite food competitions, arts and craft shows, petting zoos, live entertainment and a carnival. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children ages 6 to 11, and free for children under the age of 5.
It also offers performances from comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias on Thursday, country singer John Michael Montgomery on Friday and country singer Leann Rimes on Saturday. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free with paid fair admission.
If you go:
The Santa Barbara County Fair runs through Sunday at the Santa Maria Fairpark, 937 Thornburg St., Santa Maria. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the carnival rides open until midnight. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children ages 6 to 11, and free for children under the age of 5. Parking is $7.