Flora Vista teen gears up for San Juan County Fair
Sherri Halsted, 18, will show goats and pigs at the fair, which starts Monday and continues all week at McGee Park
FLORA VISTA — About 10 years ago, Sherri Halsted asked her parents for a small "loan" of $500 to purchase her first goat for a 4-H project.
With that — and advice from friends and mentors — the 18-year-old Aztec High School graduate began a decade-long career of showing animals at the San Juan County Fair. This year, she'll show three goats and three pigs at the fair, which starts Monday and continues all week at McGee Park.
That initial loan was the only time Halsted's parents financially supported her projects.
The Flora Vista teenager uses proceeds from her animal sales both to buy new animals each year and to cover the cost of their food, medical expenses, leashes and even clothing for the goats.
While some parents are actively involved in helping their children show livestock, Don and Deanna Halsted took a more laid-back approach with their daughter.
"The whole idea of 4-H is for the member to experience what it takes to raise a show animal," said Deanna Halsted. "And we have left it to her."
Raising animals is a full-time job for Sherri Halsted. Most days, she can often be found outside caring for her goats and pigs, often not returning inside until about 10 p.m.
Her hard work pays off each year at the fair. While she has never won grand champion, she always qualifies to sell her animals, which she said is her ultimate goal.
She has also raised animals that have won their classes at the fair. In addition to competing for grand champion, the fair divides livestock into classes based on the animals' size and purpose. Halsted raises Boer goats — a large goat breed typically bred for meat.
When she was 9 years old, Halsted showed a 130-pound Boer goat named Chuck Norris. While in the show ring, the brown and white goat dragged her, eventually getting loose.
"He ended up winning the class, but it was probably because of his attitude," she recalled.
Later, Halsted added pigs to her fair repertoire. She explained pigs are more challenging and more competitive at the fair.
"The pig barn is one of the most competitive," she said.
Showing pigs also requires her to travel out of state. This year, she went to farms in Texas to purchase a Duroc, a blue butt and a Yorkshire pig.
While she only shows Boer goats, Halsted prefers to show a variety of pigs. She said she looks for a good quality animal, rather than a specific breed, when buying pigs. The one breed she has always had is a Duroc, a large red pig with partially drooping ears.
Her pigs have won several second place ribbons at the fair, and she has also taken them to the state fair, where one qualified for sale in 2014.
"That was a huge honor," she said, explaining only 25 pigs qualify for sale at the state fair.
Halsted said actually choosing the animal is one of the hardest parts of showing. She looks for structurally sound animals with good muscle density and conformation.
Serving as a livestock judge has also helped with selecting animals. About four years ago, Halsted started judging as part of the National FFA Organization, a youth agriculture program formerly known as the Future Farmers of America.
That experience helped her secure a scholarship to Clarendon College in Clarendon, Texas, where she plans to study animal science and compete on the school's livestock judging team.
Despite the prizes and recognition, Halsted said she is most proud of mentoring others and spreading knowledge.
She has one main piece of advice for children who are interested in showing animals: "It's important to put everything you have into it."
Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.
Highlights of the San Juan County Fair
Sunday: Prior to the official start of the fair, the Southwest Barrel Racers will host its second annual Pee Wees for Peach’s Neet Feet starting at 3 p.m. Sunday at the McGee Park Memorial Coliseum. The event will conclude with an open 4D barrel race, followed by a pole bending competition.
Monday: Monday will feature the Outhouse Race at 6:30 p.m. behind the food concessions. The first of the fair’s concerts will start at 7 p.m. in the Open Air Pavilion. MD and the 20/20’s Band will perform.
Tuesday: The Barnyard Olympics is broken into age groups, and each group has a different task to complete. These tasks range from hay bale tosses to obstacle courses. The fair concert series will continue at 7 p.m. in the Open Air Pavilion with the band Old Dog Three performing.
Wednesday: On Wednesday, senior citizens and people with disabilities can go to the fair for free. The Special Needs Horse show will be from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Memorial Coliseum. The coliseum will later be dedicated at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday: Children 12 years old or younger can get in free if they bring a pair of old eyeglasses to donate to the Farmington Evening Lions Club. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and their troop leaders can also enter the fair for free if they wear their uniform. The youth horse show will start at 8 a.m. and the 4-H rodeo will be at 6:30 p.m. Both events will be in the McGee Park Memorial Coliseum. The goat costume contest starts at 7 p.m. in the swine barn. Country and gospel artist B.J. Thomas will perform at 8 p.m. in the open air pavilion.
Friday: The rabbit catch-it contest will start at 6 p.m. in the swine barn. Later in the evening, contestants who have won top showmanship in one of the livestock divisions will be eligible to compete in Round Robin Showmanship, which starts at 7 p.m. Country music band Trick Pony will perform at 8 p.m. in the open air pavilion.
Saturday: The rooster crowing contest will begin at 9 a.m. in the Stark Poultry Barn. The rooster that crows the most in a set time frame will win the contest. Later in the morning, tractor pulls will be at 9:30 a.m. in the McGee Park Memorial Coliseum. People interested in the culinary arts can check out the bakers showcase at 11 a.m. in the convention center and a salsa contest will be at 6:30 p.m. in the small patio. Children can challenge each other to a stick horse race starting at 11 a.m. in the beef barn show ring. In the evening, the 4-Corners Kart Club will have a race at 6 p.m. in the McGee Park Memorial Coliseum. Country music band Highway 101 will perform at 8 p.m. in the open air pavilion.
More information: sanjuancountyfair.net