The Big Fresno Fair features some of the best cattle in the country. Livestock Superintendent Joe Camarillo said state budget cuts to schools have impacted 4H and F.F.A. programs this year. "We see kids probably raising fewer animals than what they did last year. But that's with feed costs and everything else. They learn how to do their management. It's just an entrepreneurship skill that they learn in these projects. And that's what this project is all about."
The animals are sold after spending an entire year with their owners. Students typically use that money to re-invest in a different type of animal and start the cycle all over again the next year.
Makala Gardner of Kingsburg said the shrinking economy is forcing her to expand her responsibilities as a farmer. "Learning on the record books. Keeping track of all my data. My profits. My losses. And just making sure that I work hard to try and make sure to get enough money to where I can keep doing this. Because if I lost then it's going to start up again next year."
Students at this year's fair are busy grooming their animals for the judges and potential buyers. Teens like Stevie Davis of Caruthers knows the competition will be tough at the Junior Livestock Auction. She had this advice for others hoping to join her and others in farming. "There's a lot of people that I know that have said that they wanted to do it and they've started it. They've changed their mind and decided that they didn't like it so basically do your research."
New this year is the Supreme Champions Row. The area is marked with purple banners. The best of the best after Thursday will be placed in these pens for potential buyers will pay top dollar to these hard working kids.