• WHAT: San Joaquin County Fair
• WHERE: 1658 South Airport Way, Stockton
• WHEN: Sept. 20-30, each week Thursday through Sunday, opens daily at noon with buildings open until 10 p.m. and the Midway until midnight. Exhibit and livestock hours are noon until 10 p.m. Horseracing post time is 1:15 p.m. daily.
• COST: Admission free, parking is $10
• MORE INFO: Go to sanjoaquinfair.com or call the Fair office at 209-466-5041.
STOCKTON – About 15 months ago, Shari McCallister became aware that the San Joaquin County Fair would switch from a summer schedule to the fall.
She planned her schedule accordingly. Rather than June or July, the Delta College student began the process of preparing her Montadale sheep in time for the fair by late July or early August.
“I had to bump up (the schedule) a month up,” said McCallister, who again participated on behalf of Manteca Unified School District’s Future Farmers of America.
She’s also knows what it takes, having raised champion livestock at the SJC Fair in recent years.
The fair change was an adjustment for everybody, according to Weston Ranch FFA advisor Amanda Martinez.
So much so, she said on Friday, that the number of participants at MUSD was down this year.
Martinez noted that most students purchase their livestock from breeders. But with the fair’s new fall schedule, they were left with slim pickings.
Those who had projects were responsible for making sure that their animal was properly tended to at the Manteca Unified school farm during the summer break.
“If they had to go out of town, they had friend handle (their animal’s) feeding schedule,” said Ryan Costa at the school farm.
The fair once again features 14 FFA chapters, including MUSD with East Union, Sierra, Weston Ranch, Lathrop and Manteca High, and Ripon High.
In addition, over 21 4-H clubs and numerous individual exhibitors are also involved in ag events that conclude Saturday, Sept. 29, with the junior livestock auction.
“Many of our kids are feeling the impact (with the change). The money from the auction usually helped pay for college,” said Martinez.
In the past, FFA students used the fair as an end-of-the-school-year activity, camping out for the day at the fairgrounds with friends and family as part of their summer vacation.
But that changed with the move. Martinez, for one, has 17 students in her FFA program. Of that, only six had permission that day from school to help out at the fair.
“We had a few students who went away for college and were unable to come back (for the fair),” she said.
McCallister, fortunately, attends school nearby. “I’m trying not to miss too many of my classes,” she said.
She’s been showing animals at the fair since she was 9.
“The change made for a bit of a challenge,” said McCallister. “But I think we’ve adjusted.”