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Ceres 4-H, FFA members enjoyed Fair experience
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Central Valley High School FFA members Emanuel Alvarez, Marisela Yepez and Marlen Diaz exhibited their FFA sheep at the County Fair in Turlock. Their involvement ended over the weekend. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The Stanislaus County Fair wrapped up Sunday but the memories of it will be unforgettable to hundreds of Ceres and Hughson teens who are a part of 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA).

A number of them came away from the fair with impressive results.

The fair gave many of the participants an action-packed respite from summer boredom. Hughson High sophomore Cali Jost was on hand with three goats. On most days when her animals were at the fair, Jost would arrive at 6 a.m. and stay until 8 or 9 p.m.

"There's always something going on," said Jost, who also showed at last year's fair. "You don't really have the option to say, ‘Oh, I'm bored.' It's like, ‘Well, let's go find something.' There's always something to do."
Ceres High School sent nine livestock exhibitors to the fair, said agriculture instructor Mike Patterson, and a host of ag mechanic project entrants.

Amanda Agnelli, a CHS FFA member, took Reserve Champion in Yorkshire Market Swine on Monday, July 15. She was one of nine CHS students who showed livestock at the fair. The others were Garrett Howser, Brittany Turnbow, Alyssa Atchison, Kailee Fox, Jasmine Connolly, Madison Zamaroni, John Gilbertson and Dustin Palacek. Gilbertson and Zamaroni were finalists in their showmanship classes.

"Our sheep did really well this year," said Jesse Bishop, the agricultural teacher at Central Valley High School. "We raised 14 and had 13 here, one was breeding and 12 market.

Emanuel Alvarez of CVHS' FFA chapter claimed FFA champion in whiteface cross breed division. Three others either won class or were second in class to qualify as champions or reserve champions in their respective animal weight divisions. They were Alanna Ramos, Marlen Diaz and Marisela Yepez.

Another of their classmates, Andrew Dias, did very well with FFA dairy goat competition when he claimed the Junior Champion Doe.

Vincent Avila took championship with his FFA Champion single fryer rabbit.

CVHS also took two titles in poultry exhibits. Vincent Avila won FFA Champion Poultry Meat Pen while reserve champion was Emanuel Alvazez.

"They had good fairs, those two," said Bishop.
Winning the championship of the Advanced Poultry Showmanship went to Carina Partida.

Ernesto Cuevas of CVHS won True Novice Beef Showmanship on Thursday.

Central Valley freshman Jessica Larkin took first place in Advanced Rabbit Showmanship. Vincent Avila and Andrew Diaz took second places.

The end of the fair was an end of an era for CVHS FFA member Alexis Ulloa, who will be too old for FFA next year as an MJC student. Ulloa, an animal sciences major, has participated in five fairs and this year enjoyed raising three lambs for the fair since January. "We're selling two for market and keeping one for breeding," said Ulloa.

The hardest part of seeing the fair come to an end is parting with the animals FFAers have nurtured. Ulloa said two of her lambs, raised for four months, were sold Saturday be slaughtered for meat.

"We get really attached to them," said Ulloa of her animals. "The hardest was my first year and I always tell myself that it would get easier but it doesn't. I just have an attachment to animals."

Ulloa wants to transfer to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and become a large animal veterinarian.

CVHS students raise their animals at the school farm behind Hidahl Elementary School. A new six-acre farm is being planned with the most pressing need for $250,000. CVHS graduate Luis Alvarez said $50,000 has been raised thus far through corporate and private donations.