The swine unit at the Santa Maria Fairpark buzzed with activity Wednesday morning — the first day of the 119th annual Santa Barbara County Fair — as 4-H members readied their pigs to be judged.
While waiting for her pig’s turn in the market swine show, Kelsey Shrode sprayed her 275-pound hog, Lola, with a light oil product and brushed her until she shined.
“This one’s really sweet, and she really loves belly rubs,” said Shrode, 11, as she stroked the hog’s stomach.
Shrode is a member of the Huasna Valley 4-H Club, whose 85 members raise and show hogs, steers, goats, rabbits, chickens and turkeys, club leader Sandi Dewar said. It also has an entomology group.
More than 500 hogs will be judged over the course of the fair, which runs through Sunday. Hogs, goats, sheep and market beef that make it to the championship round will be shown today.
The junior livestock auction starts Saturday morning, where Dewar estimates one hog per minute will be sold.
Many of the 4-H members use the money they receive from selling their animals to purchase another to raise the following year and to save for college.
Shrode’s hog didn’t make it to the championship drive today, but fellow club member Amanda Ormonde’s hog, Snuffalafugus, will be there.
The 243-pound pig placed first in her category during the market show.
“I’ve placed but never gotten to a championship,” said Ormonde, 13. “So this is really cool.”
The showmanship and market events are her favorite part of raising the hogs.
“It’s great when the pig cooperates,” she said. “It’s really nice to know the hard work all year has paid off.”
Santa Barbara County Fair at the Santa Maria Fairpark
The 119th Santa Barbara County Fair began Wednesday and runs through Sunday at the Santa Maria Fairpark. General admission at the gate is $7 for ages 12 and older, and $5 for children 6 to 11 and seniors 62 and older. Parking is $5. Wristbands for unlimited carnival rides are $25 — and today, they are buy one, get one free. The wristbands must be purchased by 3 p.m.
For more information, go to www.santamariafairpark.com.