Breanne Lucero, 12, demonstrates how she will set her sheep for the Socorro County Fair. Lucero will have to hand lead the sheep and then set its feet up.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain


The Friday before the Socorro County Fair 13-year-old Jacob Angel learned how to give his pig a fade, so it will look sharp before competition.

There are 88 junior livestock exhibitors signed up for the county fair, ranging in age from 5 to 19. The kids prepare for months, raising their animals and preparing them for the show.

County Extension Agent Emily Bruton showed Angel how to fade the pig’s hair shorter closer to the face, and how far down to clip the long belly hairs. Hair was cut a little shorter along the top of the pig’s back to show off its muscular top lines. The cut makes the pig look a little wider. The pig contently ate while the haircut was conducted; only growing a little reluctant near the end of the hair appointment when the long hairs on its chin needed to be trimmed. It flopped down in the dirt along the edge of its pen, as if to say, I’m done.

Belen Middle School student Rilee Chavez, 13, is preparing to show her sheep and to compete in a rifle competition at the fair. She’s diligently worked with her sheep every day since she got it in the spring, and goes to shooting practices every weekend, where she’s learned how to shoot and become versed in the ten commandments of safety.

The day before the competition Chavez washes her sheep and then walks it around the fairgrounds to get it comfortable.

“The morning before fair, I walk it around and hang out with it, so it won’t be scared or nervous,” said Chavez.

Her favorite part of the fair is knowing that all her hard work has paid off.

“I would say the most challenging part is getting to know your animal and getting them used to you,” said 12-year-old Breanne Lucero. “Because when you first get your animal they’re all afraid of stuff and they’re all edgy. Once you get to know your animal I think it gets a lot easier.”

Lucero will show two lambs, two goats, meat pen chickens and fancy chickens at the Socorro County Fair. Her day starts at five in the morning when she feeds the animals before school. After the school day, she runs her lambs, rinses them off and then practices showmanship with her goats.

Lucero does indoor exhibits too. The 12-year-old won a camera bag in a fair photography competition last year, with a shot of a chicken pin and a small nest of eggs. This year she’ll compete in Photography Two, with photos of her sister taken from different angles.

“4-H is a really cool experience for anyone who’s new to doing it. Even though there’s a lot of hard work and effort you have to put into it, it pays off in the end,” said Lucero.

Cathy Cook, El Defensor Chieftain