STOCKTON – Kayla Keating is the face of this year’s San Joaquin AgFest.
As queen of the five-day event that officially started Monday, she represents the spirit of the Junior Show and Auction at the San Joaquin County fairgrounds.
“I’m helping out where needed,” said Keating, who is an incoming senior at Ripon High.
As an ambassador for the AgFest events, her duties will include being on hand for the awards distribution at ringside as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.
She’s the daughter of Dawn Pascale and Joe Williams.
Keating was selected Miss AgFest Queen on May 14. She was judged on her riding and the results of a 50 question test on the major livestock species.
Keating is affiliated with the RHS Future Farmers of America chapter and the Ripon 4-H Club for the past five years. She’s currently showing a steer heifer cross named Stewart.
On this opening day, youngsters and their families from the various FFA and 4-H chapters from throughout the county were hunkered down in the surrounding spots of the livestock area of the fairgrounds while greeted to comfortable cool temperatures.
Market beef, breeding beef and market heifer along with the commercial gilts were weighed in and checked first thing in the morning.
Included was Flynn Murphy’s 1,304-pound market beef named Black Magic, who has already drawn raves from potential buyers.
The Escalon 4-H youngster has been showing beef since he was 9 – he’ll be a freshman at Venture Academy in the fall. Murphy came up big with his projects at last year’s AgFest, winning the Reserve Supreme Market Beef, 4H Champion Market Beef and Supreme Champion Cow-Calf.
His sister Rowan Murphy was the 2015 AgFest Queen. She was back, showing her market beef project named Monkey, as in “Chunky Monkey,” she said.
The Murphys had plenty to do following the morning move-in. The check list consisted of watering the livestock, grooming and two feedings. A 5 p.m. showmanship practice was on tap in the livestock arena.
Students in the Manteca High, Weston Ranch High, East Union High, Sierra High and Lathrop High FFA chapters also settled in with their projects on this day.
Ditto that for the many local 4-H chapters, who used the day to clean, feed and pen in their goats, sheep and swine.
The smaller animals such as rabbits, turkeys, breeding poultry and other meat birds will be ready for exhibit on Wednesday, which also marks the return of the San Joaquin County Fair after a two-year hiatus.
The absence of the fair was the reason for Bonner Murphy of Farmington and others to start up AgFest Junior Show and Auction back in 2014.
She’s the mother of Flynn and Rowan Murphy.
Bonner Murphy, who is also involved with the Escalon FFA and 4-H Club, was the catalyst behind turning AgFest into a non-profit event that so happens to be independent of the county fair.
She was the organizer of AgFest for the past two years.
“I enjoy just being here and taking it easy for a change,” said Murphy, who was able to concentrate her efforts once again on the care of youngsters and their farm animals.
AgFest concludes Saturday with the auction that begins at 9 a.m.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail email@example.com.