For the past five months, 14 Pacificans have been preparing for a contest that will come to a head at the fast-approaching San Mateo County Fair. Pacifica’s 4H members, ages five to nineteen, will show livestock beginning this Saturday and throughout next week, in the hopes of finding buyers.
“We’re in the final countdown, actively preparing,” Holly Bernal 4H community leader and lamb project leader and mother of two of this year’s competitors, told Patch.
In recent years, Pacifica 4H members have won grand championships in turkeys, meat chickens, and rabbits. Of this year’s participants, eleven are raising turkeys, six have lambs, and two have meat and dairy goats.
Most participants with smaller animals are able to raise them on their own property and in their backyards. Larger animals are kept at the Pacifica 4H Farm at 830 Rosita Road behind Linda Mar School, where 4Hers visit multiple times each day to check on their livestock.
“The kids put in their own money, their own blood their own sweat their own tears,” Bernal said. “All this work culminates into the fair.” Members of the community will have a chance to observe or bid at a live auction for the animals on Saturday June 16.
Several 4H members already have buyers lined up and ready to bid on their animals, while others will hope to find a buyer on the spot.
“Some kids do this better than others,” Bernal said. “Especially at the age of nine or ten, approaching strangers saying, ‘will you buy my lamb?’” In recent months, writing letters has been a useful strategy for 4Hers approaching prospective buyers and establishing relationships in preparation for the auction.
Some of Pacifica’s competitors hope to use what they learn with 4H in order to make a living in livestock. Others are interested in becoming veterinarians or learning business principles, and others are just in it for the experience.
Eight youth clubs from around the county will compete at this year’s fair. Pacifica’s main competition is Half Moon Bay, home to a local branch of the Future Farmers of America, a national organization dedicated to agricultural education. According to Bernal, many of Half Moon Bay’s competitors raise their animals on family property, which allows them 24-hour-access.
Participants will compete in several categories depending on the contestant’s showmanship skill level and the animal’s classification for market.
Animals auctioned for meat are generally more expensive than how much a comprable amount of food would cost at a grocery store, but some locals say the quality is much higher.
“I bought a quarter of a cow last year,” Bernal said, “and it was the best meat I ever had.”
Check back with Patch for continued coverage of the San Mateo County Fair.