Saturday, September 23, 2023

From FFA to ‘CIA’: Fair Exhibitor Celebrates Her Last Year at the Fair Before Entering the Culinary Institute of America

The following is a press release from the Redwood Empire Fair:

From FFA to “CIA” Fair exhibitor celebrates last year at the fair before entering culinary school Kylee De Lapo, 18 is working hard and savoring her last year as an exhibitor at the Redwood Empire Fair. A Potter Valley native and Potter Valley High graduate, she has raised swine since she was eight years old. 

“Everyone in my family raised animals. My mom raised pigs. My uncle raised pigs and lambs. My aunt raised steer and was Grand Champion four times.”  

Kylee has been a member of 4H and FFA. “At first, I didn’t want to raise animals, but I fell in love with pigs, with 4H, with the people and with Fair. I was really scared showing during my first year. I didn’t do the best, but I got very, very lucky and received $28 per pound for my pig, so I  was very thankful,” she smiles. She has been saving all her money to attend the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, located in Saint Helena, where she will begin classes in  January. 

This year, Kylee will be showing Petunia, a Hampshire/Yorkshire cross. She describes the  process of checking in on the first day of the fair.  

“The morning you bring your animals in, they go immediately on the scale. Pigs have to weigh in above 220 pounds and below 280 pounds. If your pig is freaking out and pooping, you have to keep them calm and feed them a little extra. Then they have to pass a drug test, along with  being dewormed monthly.” FFA members submit a record book documenting all the activities related to raising their animals, including how they were cared for and how exhibitors spent their money.

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“Then we take a three-hour ethics training course. Even though I’ve done it for the past  11 years, it’s still required. It helps us make sure we’re properly taking care of our animals.” 

She is still surprised that many fair visitors don’t realize how challenging it is to raise an animal and show it at the Fair. 

“People can just go buy an animal and give it some feed. But being in 4H and FFA shows us how to really care for your animals. I realize raising animals may not be for everyone. Some  people just don’t like animals, and they do smell,” she laughs. “You get used to it. I have learned so much from raising animals. You’re learning leadership skills, time management, hard work and even public speaking. If I wouldn’t have gone through this, I wouldn’t have the drive to  go to culinary school.” 

Fair exhibitors have a different life than many of their teen peers. “Every morning and night I’m feeding Petunia. I work in catering, so my mom is a big help if I can’t be home to feed the pigs. In terms of free time and hanging out with friends, I definitely  don’t do that as much as others.” Even attending the Fair is a different experience. “We have a  10:00 PM curfew. I ride maybe one ride and eat maybe one corn dog. You’re at Fair for your  animal.”

“To go to the Fair and show animals is unique. Even people from Ukiah will say, ‘You raise animals? Where’s Potter Valley?’ It’s really cool to bring new experiences to people,” she continues.  

Following culinary school, Kylee hopes to move to Italy to complete her internship. She has already visited the country and loves it. “My favorite place was Sicily. We stayed in cute little cottages at a working olive farm about 20 miles down a dirt road. There was thunder, lightning,  rain and hole in the roof- but it was the best place we stayed. There were people from all over  Europe working there. We made our own wine and sat down at a big dinner table, all together. It was such a cool experience.” 

For anyone thinking about raising an animal, Kylee says, “Go for it. No question. I was so shy before I did FFA. Now I speak my mind. My teachers have taught me so much. They’re more than teachers- they’re my friends. They are welcoming of everybody and everyone. Plus, you’re making a little extra cash,” she smiles. “I don’t think people realize how much money the community spends at the Fair just to help out our youth,” Kylee concludes. 

The Market and Breeding Swine Show takes place Thursday, August 3rd at 8:00 AM, with Swine  Showmanship on Friday, August 4th at 8:00 AM.  

Jennifer Seward, CEO of Redwood Empire Fair notes that the Livestock Auction provides a  great opportunity to purchase custom cuts of meat for oneself, family or friends. The meat can also be donated to a non-profit organization for a tax write-off. The 2022 buyers are welcome to  attend a “Thank-You Breakfast” prior to the Saturday’s auction at 8:00 AM at the Willow Tree  Stage.  

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“There are 261 lots in the Auction this year- everything from rabbits to steers-with a significant increase from last year’s entries,” says Seward. “We invite everyone to attend and bid at the  Livestock Auction on Saturday, August 5th beginning at 10:30 AM at the Racine Pavilion,”  Seward concludes. 

The Fair runs from August 3rd to August 6th. It opens at 3:00 on Thursday and Friday and at noon on Saturday and Sunday. For more information phone (707) 462-3884, visit the Redwood  Empire Fair’s Facebook page or https://www.redwoodempirefair.com.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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