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Fair is the highlight of FFA, 4-H for youth
While there are lots of chores to do and lots of responsibilities taking care of an animal at the Stanislaus County Fair, a number of Ceres area FFA and 4-H members feel the experience is a highlight of being in the clubs.

Central Valley High School graduate Scott Cervantes-Brasil said he likes the fair so much that he will probably bring an animal to the fair next year. It will be his last year he can participate in FFA.

"It's fun being around my school mates and the interactions with the animals," said Cervantes-Brasil. "We like to educate the public about the dairy industry. Since I've lived on a dairy my whole life I am kind of used to it."

Because of a schedule shift, dairy cows were trucked to the fairgrounds on Tuesday before the fair started. The fair moved the dairy cow schedule because of a lack of space for all the show animals, said Tony Traini of Central Valley High School FFA. That meant dairy entries were gone by Saturday, July 14 to make way for beef cattle entries.

Wynter Bratenas, a CVHS FFA member, said she liked the moved-up schedule.

"It's easier without having everything crowded," she said. "It was short but nice."

Bratenas said she always enjoys the fair and finds socializing a great way to pass the time and catch up with the lives of other FFA members. She said it also got her mind off of the triple-digit heat which plagued the Valley a few days last week.

Patrick Germann of Westport 4-H said he's been showing up with animals at the fair for about a decade and finds the whole thing "still fun."

"You get to hang out with friends and tell people about the dairy industry and see your work pay off," said Patrick. "Just showing your animal is kind of your reward."

Kaci Kuykendall and Ashley O'Brien, also Westport 4-H members, said they have fun while staying busy. "There's always something to do," Kuykendall said.

Members not only groom, feed and water their animals, they have to tend to pitchfork detail to keep the straw around the cows free of manure.

During Friday's opening day events, Westport 4-H member Gabriela Germann became 4-H champion rabbit meat pen and sister Dominque Germann won 4-H single fryer rabbit Reserve Champion. She was hoping to recoup some of her expenses with the sale on Friday.

Sister Gabriela Germann said she enjoys raising rabbits in the 4-H program.

"It's competitive but not too hard and it's fun to see what you get when you breed by yourself," she said.

According to agricultural teacher Ken Moncrief, Central Valley High School students submitted 1,500 potted plant entries and 900 ag-hort entries consisting of vegetables which were judged for quality.