Home News Local News Youth spend year preparing for 4-H and FFA Fair

Youth spend year preparing for 4-H and FFA Fair

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Some of the more than 250 youth participating in the 2018 4-H and FFA Fair gather with their instructors Saturday at the fairgrounds. From left are Goddard High FFA advisor Daniel Mathews, Jaimi Wagner, Tyler Whitaker, Cael Alderete, Caleb Doss and Goddard FFA advisor Justin Lamb. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The Chaves County 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) Fair starting Saturday represents an annual tradition that some youth prepare for all year.

Julie White, top, and Molly Pirtle have quite a few indoor exhibits this year. Pirtle also is showing a goat and has an entry in the dog show. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

“I just like meeting the people,” said Cael Alderete, 17, a Goddard High School student and 4-H and FFA member, to explain why he has participated for 10 years. “I like meeting new friends and seeing old friends. And the projects are really interesting, and it is kind of what I want to do in the future, so I keep doing it.”

Alderete, who is interning this summer with an archaeological unit of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, said he is showing pigs and poultry at the fair as well as exhibiting some works related to welding, woodworking and a self-determined wildlife project. He said he has enjoyed his years raising livestock, even when one of his 300-pound pigs was picked up by animal control because someone thought it was wild when spotted in his front yard.

Alderete is one of more than 250 youth, ages 9 to 19, who have signed up for the fair, which is expected to include 1,458 indoor and 1,037 livestock and animal exhibits.

Free and open to the public, the event will occur at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, 2500 S.E. Main St.

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“We are quite excited about this year,” said Larry Hobson, president of the board of directors of the Eastern New Mexico State Fair, which also governs the fairgrounds. Joyce Wagner is chair of the 4-H and FFA livestock show.

Hobson said this is the 36th year for the youth fair, and the 34th year at the fairgrounds. (For its first two years, it was known as Chaves County Achievement Days and held in Hagerman.)

“This is an all-volunteer effort,” he said. “It takes the concerted work and contributions of a lot of youth and adults who have a passion for 4-H and FFA.”

The events kick off Saturday with two horse shows. One show is for area 4-H and FFA members, with 13 entries so far, and the other is an open show for youth, with 26 entries from Carlsbad, Artesia, Hobbs, Tatum and Lovington. The public show will honor Janet Randeau, the horse show superintendent for more than 20 years who passed away in May.

Then Monday through Aug. 2 are the livestock, pet, plant, art, crafts, food and agricultural project exhibits and awards.

For many, the culmination of the fair is the Aug. 3 junior livestock sale at 7 p.m. Last year’s sale rang up $318,000 in sales. Livestock that have earned top prizes can be in the sale, with youth able to earn some money for college or for their next pig, rabbit, calf, lamb or goat.

Last year, exhibitors also received $3,352 in prize money for placing first through fifth in their exhibit categories.

Six youth, from novices to experienced exhibitors, gathered recently at the fairgrounds to talk about why they look forward to demonstrating the skills and knowledge they have gained this year working with their animals, projects and crafts.

“I guess I am addicted to it,” said Jaimi Wagner, 16, a Goddard High 4-H and FFA member, who said she is participating for her seventh year. “My older brother showed whenever he was in high school and he got me hooked on it with pigs, and then I started showing sheep. Although it is hard work, it is certainly worth it in the end.”

Some of the other exhibitors this year include Molly Pirtle, Julie White, Tyler Whitaker and Caleb Doss.

Pirtle, 9, who is home-schooled, is participating for her first year and is trying her hand at quite a few categories. She is showing a goat, has an entry in the dog show and has some baking, sewing and photography entries.

White, 11, who attends Berrendo Middle School, has been showing for two years. She said she enjoys working with animals, but this year her entries are indoor exhibits of her sewing, baking, quilting, beading and photography. Her favorite activity, she said, is quilting.

Doss, 17, a Goddard High FFA member, is showing lambs and dairy heifers for his third year. He says he is thinking about studying range and wildlife management. Although not from an agricultural family, he became interested in raising dairy heifers after joining FFA.

Whitaker, 17, a Goddard High School FFA member, is showing goats for his first year participating in the fair.

“It is a lot more work than I originally thought, but it is a lot of fun,” said Whitaker. “You kind of get attached to the animals raising them, so it is going to be sad if they go off because I am really attached to one of them.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.