By Shawnice Sellers
Although the Shasta District Fair only comes once a year, some teens spend most of that year preparing for it. While most high school students flock to the fair for the demolition derby, delicious funnel cakes and the all-famous Ferris wheel, these teens have a much different definition of the fair. These are the kids with livestock projects and to them the Fair means more than just summer fun.
This is Kory Silva’s seventh year participating in 4-H and raising animals to sell at fair. The soon to be junior at Foothill has raised three market hogs and four market steers for the Shasta District Fair. This year his steer Remi–named because he plans to use money he makes from selling Remi to buy a Remington shotgun–did quite well. The beautiful black steer, an Angus main cross, was chosen as the 4-H Reserve Grand Champion Market Steer, which is quite an accomplishment. The success isn’t just luck however; Kory has raised Remi since October which means seven months of everyday feeding, exercising, and caring for him.
But this is nothing new for Kory; he has grown up with this lifestyle at his parent’s ranch in Oak Run. He, his father and older brother raise and breed Piedmontese Cattle and have around sixty head currently. They show their bulls in the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo. each year and have won the past four years in a row. Kory is a member of Swede Creek 4-H club which means he attends monthly meetings; he has also participated in several community service activities this year such as the canned food drive, coat drive and volunteering for a Thanksgiving Dinner. He plans to make Agriculture not only a huge part of his life but also a career in the future, and the money he earns from breeding and selling his animals has helped him buy his first car and will help him with college when the time comes. To some this may seem like a lot of work for a sixteen year old, but to Kory this is fun and he truly enjoys this experience.
Over in the sheep barn was Alex Strawn, also an incoming junior at Foothill. Alex is a member of Foothill FFA and the past two years she has been the only one of her group to show a Market Lamb. This is the fifth lamb she has raised for the fair. When she was eight years of age, her mother convinced her to get involved with 4-H and she originally started off in the Oak Run 4-H club. There she raised and sold poultry for two years for the experience before moving on to something bigger and that required more responsibility-market lambs. She bought her ewe Chubs from Kaelin Farms in Gridley, Ca. She laughed as she explained why she named her lamb Chubs. When Chubs had wool, she looked fat; however after Alex shaved the wool off, Chubs was not so chubby after all, but the name managed to stick.
Alex is very involved in her FFA Chapter; she competes in competitions such as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. She still raises chickens at her house and enjoys playing sports. Unfortunately, Alex had a rather scary experience at the fair this year, Chubs ate too much one night and wasn’t feeling well, but Alex took great care of her, nursed her back to health and Chubs appeared to be as healthy and as happy as any other lamb in the barn. It’s no wonder she plans to go to College after high school and hopes to become a Large Animal Veterinarian in the future as she already has a knack for it. She explained that the field is becoming smaller and smaller; however the demand is growing, and caring for animals is one thing she is truly passionate about.
When Kaycee Titus took her Market Hog into the show ring, she never thought that her pig Cocoa would soon be named the Grand Champion Market Hog. It doesn’t get any better than that. Kaycee is also going to be a junior at Foothill this fall and raising pigs is nothing new to her. This is the seventh market hog she has raised and by the looks of her bright ribbons and shiny belt buckle this was her best year yet. She couldn’t help but smile while sitting in the pen with Cocoa explaining how she never thought she would do this well. With great success comes great responsibility as Kaycee proved to everyone. She put a lot of hard work into raising a Grand Champion animal; the exercising, bathing, clipping, feeding and overall taking care of the animal. But to her that’s her favorite part of this experience.
Kaycee is the younger of her two sisters who also raised animals thru 4-H and FFA in previous years and lives on her families’ ranch in Bella Vista. Kaycee doesn’t belong to any 4-H club or FFA chapter; she is what’s called an “Independent” exhibitor, however she still volunteers for community service, for example, she helped out with the Grasshopper Olympics at the Redding Aquatic Center. She loves this whole experience because it has taught her responsibility, has helped her learn all about animals and has helped with public speaking. She bought her first car with money she has saved from selling fair animals and plans to continue saving so she can help pay for her college education.
This next school year Kaycee is participating in the R.O.P. program and after high school plans to attend Shasta College and enter the nursing program. She has a very busy schedule for the average sixteen year old girl as she also plays basketball for Foothill High School and still manages to keep up with schoolwork and raise animals, but her perseverance will certainly continue to keep paying off.
With the ending of the fair comes a bittersweet feeling–now summer can actually begin for the exhibitors; however they have lost a friend. With all the hard work and time dedicated to raising the animals, connections and bonds are made, and let me tell you no two pigs or steers are ever the same; each one creates a lasting memory that stands out from the ones raised before or after. The hardest part of this experience is saying goodbye and letting go but the good outweighs the sad, as these kids learn the responsibilities of raising and caring for an animal as well as learning how to be involved in our community. Many long lasting friends are made in those barns at the fairgrounds, but some of the best ones are those that cannot even speak.