Mansfield kids get ready for NCW Fair

By Adrienne Douke
Empire Press Correspondent

Mansfield School seventh-grader and 4-H member Armando Baltazar with one of his swine exhibits for the NCW Fair. (Empire Press photo/Adrienne Douke)

Mansfield 4-H and FFA members are primping, preening and making sure their livestock get an extra helping of food as they prepare to show their animals at the North Central Washington Fair Aug. 23-26.

At the Asmussen ranch, Armando Baltazar, 12, Alejandro Morales,12, and Jackson Asmussen, 7, are busy with three chickens, two pigs, and Jackson’s horse Bullseye, as they get their entries ready. Mom Christy Asmussen organizes the camper for the big week, as she oversees her group of kids going through the process of preparing their animals for showing. She is packing up supplies and going through her checklist, making sure everything is in order.

“I’m the goat leader for 4-H,” Asmussen said.

Baltazar is showing a chicken, and two pigs. He is especially fond of his Plymouth Rock hen named Mrs. Chicken. He has worked hard to get her comfortable with handling and bathing.

“She qualifies for breed standard requirements. She’s healthy and she likes being handled,” Baltazar said.

Three days before the fair, he will bathe his hen, applying apple cider vinegar as part of the protocol. He will also scrub her feet with a toothbrush and a magic eraser, and clip her toenails with a nail clipper.

“She will look beautiful,” Baltazar said of Mrs. Chicken.

During the Fitting and Showing portion of the fair, the judge considers how the person demonstrates their ability to handle the animal. During the Market Class portion of the show, the judge evaluates the health and conformation of the animal to complete the full spectrum of the exhibition.

“I am very excited about the fair,” Baltazar said, “It’s my first time, and I’m a little nervous.”

Out in the pigpen, the two gilts were happy with plenty of food, fresh water and their mud hole for keeping cool.

“We are really feeding them a lot of high quality food, and they get special care to meet their weight goals,” Baltazar said.

Since hogs are not haltered for showing, the handler must teach them directions using a stick to guide them. While hogs are known for churlishness at times, these two “are pretty tame now,” Baltazar added.

Asmussen was in 4-H and FFA growing up, and is excited to share what she remembers as a great experience with her neighbors’ children and her own.

“It’s where we get our start in agriculture,” she said.

Asmussen holds a degree in agricultural education from Washington State University. Ranching is a way of life that she always wanted to do and it is a perfect fit.

“Mansfield School has an amazing ag teacher, Jamey Jo Steele,” Asmussen said. “I am very supportive of her efforts.”

The Mansfield FFA will have six members showing in this year’s NCW Fair. Caiden Price, Daniel Youngblood, Sammie Trull and Austin Hessman are entering their Market Hog projects. Tessa Johnson will be showing her Market Steer project, and David MacDonald will be there with his Market Goat project.

FFA Advisor Steele invites everyone to “come visit the fair and support these kids who have spent their spring and summer raising these animals. These kids are the future of the American agricultural industry.”

At the end of the day, Asmussen notes that ranch life, preparing animals for exhibit and showing them takes a lot of dedication and commitment.

“It’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.