NIPOMO, Calif. -- Faced with the cancellation of the Santa Barbara County Fair, the Nipomo FFA came up with an alternative.
The school's agriculture department has created its own livestock fair.
Starting Monday, the school is holding the "Nipomo FFA Fair" over three days.
"We are showcasing our students who have livestock projects," said Rosemary Cummings, Nipomo FFA instructor. "We thought it was important to showcase their learning and put on our own fair because that wasn't going to be provided for them."
Cummings, who was recently named the 2020 Golden Owl Ag Educator of the Year by the California FFA, created the event after the COVID-19 pandemic took away what she considers to be an integral part of agricultural education.
"This spring I watched all these opportunities being taken away from these students, and they had been deprived things they had been looking towards through their high school career," said Cummings. "We had some students, this would have been their very last county fair and I wanted to make sure that our students had the opportunity to participate."
The event includes about 50 Nipomo students.
On Monday, lambs were the feature attraction, while goats, beef and rabbits take center stage on Tuesday, with swine scheduled for Wednesday.
"We tried to recreate the whole county fair, from concession stand, to the picture backdrop, to the announcer, to the pump up music," said Cummings. "We have leather banners, belt buckles, rosettes, and ribbons. We really tried to emulate what a student would receive at the county fair."
Students said they are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase their animal at the alternative event.
"It means so much," said student Rebecca Nichols, who won grand champion middleweight. "All of the work that you put into this. To have it go for nothing was a bit letdown, but now that (Mrs. Cummings) is putting this on, I love it. I'm very fortunate and grateful."
The Nipomo FFA Fair was held with strict safety measures in place, including physical distancing being observed, and masks worn by participants.