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The biggest stage of their lives: Fallbrook FFA ready for San Diego County Fair

Fallbrook FFA
Posted at 10:44 AM, Jun 12, 2024

DEL MAR, Calif. — The 2024 San Diego County Fair kicks off Wednesday, and next to the fried foods and fast rides sits the heart of the fair -- the animal shows and Junior Livestock Auction.

The Fallbrook Future Farmers of America (FFA) will be competing once again this year, and that includes participants Jezebella Uribe, Alice Powell, and Madison Hayes.

Every day for nearly the past year, Uribe, Powell, and Hayes -- who all serve as officers in their FFA chapter -- have returned to the stalls where their animals live to get them ready for show.

Uribe, Chapter President of Fallbrook's FFA, has been caring for steer she named Lovey and said, “I’ve been feeding him corn twice a day so he gets fat, and washing him every day so that he’s nice and shiny.”

Meet Lovey the steer in the video below!

Future of farming on display at San Diego County Fair

Powell has been caring for a black steer she named Batman and Hayes has been caring for lamb she named Belle.

In the last year, those three young women created strong bonds with their animals, and Uribe said, "They’re basically like having children.”

The three young women liken the Fallbrook Future Farmers of America to an entrepreneurship program for students, teaching them how weight can turn into money.

For instance, Uribe said her steer Lovey weighs approximately 1,285 pounds, and she's hoping to make around $7,500 on him at the fair.

Hayes said her lamb has all the qualities of a good pick -- wide in the front, round in the back, with lots of muscle on the legs. She hopes to earn around $1,000 for her lamb at the fair.

However, it is not all show-and-tell for Uribe, Powell, and Hayes. There’s another side of the business they’re learning in this economy.

Uribe said she's invested about $5,000 into Lovey, and that's why she's hoping to earn $7,500. But she also said inflation is eating up her profit.

Uribe breaks down her costs, saying last year it cost her $1,600 to purchase the steer, but this year it cost $2,600. She also said the price of food has gone up for her steer.

"So, last year, I made $2,000 to $3,000 profit. This year, I'm looking at $1,000 to $2,000," Uribe said.

Hayes said the same thing comparing her lamb. She said last year, she paid $450 to purchase her lamb, but this year, it cost her $700.

On top of commitment the three women are putting in at the stalls, Powell said they're having to juggle the end of their school year. Powell said it's been a challenge balancing studying for finals and getting their animals ready for the biggest stage of their lives.

Hayes said the FFA program has always shown her that hard work pays off.

"It’s really rewarding," Hayes said. "And it gives me hope for my future in agriculture."

However, despite the fact they will walk away having been paid for the thousands of dollars and thousands of hours they’ve put in, Powell said it’s still going to be hard saying goodbye.

"They really do have the best personalities," Powell said. "I’ve cried at the fair every year, seeing them get taken away or leaving them there for the fair to pick up. It’s really sad, especially after you’ve worked with them for so long, you grow so attached to them."

Uribe, Powell, and Hayes said they will be showing their animals during the last week of June.

The Junior Livestock Auction at the San Diego County Fair is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 29.