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No fair, no problem

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POSTED June 19, 2014 12:29 a.m.

The powers that be decided that it was no longer necessary to hold the San Joaquin County Fair this summer. That’s when the real powers that be — parents, friends, families, and farmers of agriculture – stepped up and said “Sorry, not on our watch” and the 2014 San Joaquin AgFest was born. A free five-day celebration of youth agriculturalists in San Joaquin County, featuring traditional livestock competition and more is currently underway. It’s the Fair, without all the fanfare, such as carnival rides and horse races but with its most important aspect, agriculture, intact. Make no bones about it, this city, county, and state cut their teeth on Ag as infants – and are sustained by it as adults in California.

AgFest will give aspiring young men and women the opportunity to mix and mingle with others like them from neighboring county towns as well as show off their Ag talents to everyone. I can’t imagine a summer without the County Fair. It is a rite of passage that should never be taken away. There are wonderful lessons as well as harsh ones to be taught in raising an animal for the Fair. The pride you feel as a team – you and your animal – in competing against other future farmers is immeasurable. Many kids have put in nearly a year’s time in taming, feeding, grooming, and preparing their steer, heifer, pig, and chicken. Selling your animal at the fair is one of the hardest things I ever had to do as a kid. You are losing what has been your friend and companion. The harsh reality is most of these animals are sold to slaughter – and this is a young farmer’s first time dealing with that fact. I for one cried like a baby my first 3 years when taking the halter off my steer for that last time. For some it is too much, and they learn that the livestock aspect of Ag just isn’t for them. So in that sense the Fair is wonderful at preparing a person for a future farm life. If you have the chance to get out there, and are a City Slicker – don’t be afraid to ask questions. Young farm boys and girls are very proud of their upbringing, and would love to educate you about their love of Ag.

 It is strange to imagine the AgFest happening at the County Fairgrounds without the carnival and the stage acts. Growing up a farm boy, I always found it curious that we’d display our country wares smack dab in the middle of the worst part of Stockton but oh did it make for some of the best memories. It was inevitable that each year an animal, more than likely a steer would get loose, and make its way jumping and frolicking through the carnival. To a country person there is nothing funnier than the look on a city person’s face standing in line for Tilt-a-Whirl, as they realize 1,000 pounds of well groomed beef bears down on them – followed by 8 to 10 country kids chasing it down while laughing hysterically.

And having it happen in the rough part of Stockton also introduces us country kids to some city life. When I was about 6, I remember spending the day at the fair with my grandpa Manuel Teicheira, and his good friend Jim Turner of Turner Buick/Oldsmobile fame. This is akin to a 6 year old being babysat by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra — complete with horse races and beer garden, (Hey it was the 70s, and they never checked IDs back then). The night ended at On Lock Sam’s Restaurant. I remember this night specifically for two events. I ate frog legs for the first time and got food poisoning. The second moment my mom will always remember. While leaving the restaurant and returning to the fairgrounds, we were approached at a stoplight by a few “ladies of the night.” Mr. Turner made a few adult jokes that flew over this 6-year-old country boy’s head – but he let one out that I didn’t forget. “Hey Chris, make sure you let your mom know that Jim Turner took you to see hookers after the horse races....” I’m certain he didn’t think I’d remember this beautifully worded passage, and I had no clue what a hooker was. And a few days later at the fair when Jim Turner walked up to see my family in the dairy barn, I relayed the message word for word to mom. The reactions of Jim and my Grandfather instantly let me know I’d probably not be hanging out with them for quite some time. At least until I turned 12 and Jim would let me test drive a car with them, but that’s for a different column.

World Cupdate...I  broke my wrist the morning of the Portugal vs Germany match. Later that morning the Portuguese team would break my heart, and yes, I watched the whole game before heading to the hospital. It was excruciating – but the linguica on the grill acted as a short term pain killer – along with several Guinessess. I wish I had a cool story about stopping a runaway tractor headed for a group of children. I don’t. And falling off a table setting up a TV seems like the folly of a lesser athletic, and much older man. This is what 40 does, and it isn’t pretty. It will however not affect my ability to type this column – I was already a chicken pecker. Sunday afternoon the Portugal vs U.S. Game will be bittersweet, regardless of the outcome.

Let’s keep it country KAT-style...This Saturday the Stockton Weber Point stage is taken over by KAT Country 103’s Annual LAC (Listener Appreciation Concert). I got the chance to chat with on air personality Tim Cruz. The 1985 Manteca High graduate has been in the radio game since his Buffalo hooves landed him at Delta College’s KSJC in 1986. He is in the big push to the finish line for LAC, doing a few ticket stops a day. “The concert is truly for the listeners, we give away tickets at random spots throughout the Valley during the weeks leading up to the show, letting listeners know on air where we will be during the day” Cruz stated..That’s right FREE TICKETS to a listener appreciation concert. “It’s a great way to connect with the people,” adding that it isn’t strange to see the same listeners at each and every ticket stop. If they are gonna be that dedicated, we’re gonna give them tickets.” Tickets can be purchased for the event that starts Saturday at noon. Past LAC acts include Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Taylor Swift to name a few. There will be a ticket stop Friday at Habanero Hots in Lodi from 5 to 7 p.m. So get out and visit “The Cruzer” and say hi. This year’s concert features acts Keith Anderson and Steve Holy along with several other up and coming country acts. Weber Point is a great clean place to see a concert – and all the country boys and girls will be there and remember — do not drink and drive! Going to a concert, and ending up in a cop car isn’t country – it’s just stupid.

McReally?!... Last week I received an email in regards to my column about our newest McDonald’s in town. “You are an Idiot...and obviously don’t care if children live or die!” — Mrs. I.M. Rude. First things first, sure I can be an idiot when the mood suits me. However as an idiot, I still somehow manage to pick up on satire and sub-text – something lost on your boring and more than likely unintentionally oblivious thoughts. I am fairly sure most people saw the humor in the piece and many people enjoyed the candor of it. To them I say thank you for realizing this column first and foremost, is intended to be humorous – at least that’s what I tell myself but “don’t care if children live or die?!” C’mon lady! I care so much about kids and their health, that I’d like to remind everyone of the Manteca Unified School District’s Summer Healthy FREE Meals Program. The program happens daily at nearly 30 area parks. A free lunch consisting milk, fruit, vegetables, and a healthy main food can be yours, visit  MUSD.net for more info. Take your kids to the park for some health and recreation and let ‘em know Manteca to a T does care.

Festa Season is here... Next week we will learn all about Portuguese Festas and my desire to find a Portuguese girlfriend at them — preferably one not related. Stay tuned.

“It’s not Where ya do, It’s What ya do.”

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