Local youth show off year-long animal projects to public at annual county fair
Ada West used to be able to pick Mable up. "But if I tried that now I'd probably break my back," Ada laughed as she tried to get her 300-plus-pound pig, a tenant at last week's Washington County Fair, to move.
This is the first year the 11-year-old has been a part of Oregon State University Extension's 4-H program — and the first year she's raised a pig of her own. It's been a longtime dream for Ada after visiting the homes of so many friends raising livestock.
"It's really amazing how if you work with pigs they will love you like a dog," said Ada, a member of the Verboort Livestock Club. "They're like humans: every one is different. Mable is a very calm and a sweet pig."
Ada said she's learned a lot about caring for animals and treating them with respect during her year in 4-H leading up to the annual Washington County Fair, the culmination of all the hard work where she'll auction Mable off.
The fair ran Thursday, July 27, through Sunday, July 30, at the fair complex in Hillsboro and featured 4-H and Future Farmers of America project animals along with carnival rides, food and special attractions such as dog shows and hypnotists.
"It's really exciting and really nice to know you have a part in the fair," Ada said. "That's something special."
Forest Grove High School FFA participants poured into the market goat show arena Thursday afternoon. Kale Kolehmainen, 16, is participating in his second fair. This year, he's attending as the Forest Grove FFA vice president and regional chapter treasurer.
Kolehmainen chose to show a Bore goat, a market animal, because there's a place to keep him at the high school. "And I really wanted to do an animal," he said. The program "teaches kids to work with animals correctly and gets them more involved in the community."
Forest Grove High School student Kiana Westby said her grandmother and great-grandmother showed animals at the fair, so she wanted to carry on the family tradition. "You learn new things every time you work with the goats," said Westby, 14, an FFA member. "It's really interesting. I hope people come out and see what we do and maybe little kids will be inspired."
Siera Case of Gaston brought her market pig Leo this year. She said pigs are harder to handle than many other animals. While Leo placed well in the confirmation class, he was underweight, she said, likely because it's been hot and he's lost his appetite.
Still, "it's been a good learning experience," Case said. "You can teach the public about animals and show them that just kids can raise animals."