Gianna Ricci of Sonoma stood in the Sonoma County Fair auction ring Friday morning having achieved an unmatched triumph: she has shown the supreme champion hog and steer for two straight years.
Ricci, a recent graduate of Justin- Siena High in Napa, on Friday received a hefty $21 a pound for her 251-pound dark cross hog named Wasp. The buyers, La Prenda Vineyards Management, Ironbark Arborists, Ram’s Gate Winery and American AgCredit, together paid more than 20 times the market price of 91 cents a pound.
The 18-year-old member of Live Oak 4-H also won the top prize this year for Stinger, a crossbred steer who was judged under the category “all other breeds.” Stinger will be the first animal in the ring at 6 p.m. today when the steer auction begins.
To top it off, Ricci last year also showed the supreme champion hog and steer. The fair auction booklet notes that those two animals together earned $10,420.48.
A few other youth have won supreme champion ribbons for two different types of animals in the same year. But fair officials poured over 28 years’ worth of records and could not find another entrant since 1986 to pull off such a feat for two straight years.
“Pretty remarkable!” proclaimed Katie Fonsen Young, the fair’s deputy manager.
Friday’s auction featured 329 hogs from 4-H and FFA chapters around the county.
The average per-pound price and the total gross value for the hog auction was not available by Friday night.
The annual fair auctions draw crowds of youths and families to watch on separate days the bidding for lambs, goats, steers, poultry, rabbits and hogs. On Friday, the action took place at blocks of tables facing the auctioneers booth, where bidders raised hands or nodded heads to raise the stakes. They were offering to pay a premium not so much for a side of bacon and pork chops but for the months of work that blue-jacketed FFA members and green-kerchiefed 4-H members have invested in raising farm animals.
“The best part of an auction is making money for the kids,” said fair board member Dave Lewers, decked out in a red, white and blue shirt as he spotted bids for the auctioneers. Some youth will use the money they earn to help pay for college, he said.
Fair board member Doug Beretta, a west Santa Rosa dairy farmer, said the adults want to make sure the youths are rewarded for their hard work, just as happened three decades ago when he showed his own animals at the fair. Some youth will pursue careers in agriculture, and some city kids will get an introduction to farming through raising an animal through a school-supported project.
“This is their only way to get involved in agriculture,” Beretta said.
Among Friday’s youth, 12-year-old Kody Petrucci of Petaluma was rare because he cares for the sow that gave birth to No Doubt, his 4-H reserve grand champion duroc. The boar, born in Feburary, was purchased Friday for $13 a pound.
Breeding pigs has given the Petaluma Junior High seventh-grader the opportunity to work alongside his grandfather Norman Harmon. It also allows him to spend time at the fair with friends in the livestock area.
“I feel like I belong here,” he said.