For the first time in 18 years, the Sunny Hills Agriculture Department won the top prize of Grand Champion Market Hog over the summer at the Orange County Fair with its 295-pound pig, Astro.
“I didn’t know how to feel; I didn’t really believe it until my friends came over and hugged me,” said sophomore Samantha Stanfill, who raised her male hog, Astro, for five months. “I was not expecting it.”
OC Fair officials gave Stanfill a plaque, ribbons, a belt buckle and a banner for the classroom on July 20, and Stanfill said she sold Astro for $7 per pound and is now saving that $2,065 for her future expenses.
Agriculture teacher Brian Kim said it took more than just Stanfill to raise a prize-winning animal at the fair.
“A huge congratulations to Samantha Stanfill and the entire pig show team at Sunny Hills,” Kim said. “It takes an entire group to make sure that all of our pigs do well, so it’s definitely a team effort.”
Although the school has won championships with goats, broilers, and rabbits before, Kim said it has not had a prizewinning pig in almost two decades.
“We didn’t really do anything to celebrate,” Stanfill said. “We just took pictures.”
Over the summer, agriculture students visited the farm on campus at least twice a week to walk, groom and feed their 13 pigs, 20 lambs and 8 steers.
“We usually walk around the pig or goat pen and make sure to sunblock [the pigs] so they don’t look like crispy bacon,” Stanfill said.
When the competition was two days away, the students switched up their schedule.
“I needed to make sure [my lamb and swine] ate twice a day, had their exercise and that I trained with both of them before the OC fair,” said sophomore Joseph Pacheco, whose lamb, Levi, won a ribbon and plaque for the Advanced Master Showmanship title.
Besides Pacheco, sophomore Alyssa Garcia won two plaques and a belt buckle for the Grand Champion Market Rabbits title, senior Saul Narez won a plaque and ribbons for the Reserve FFA Champion Market Lamb title and senior Yartiza Morales won a ribbon and a plaque for the Novice Goat Showmanship title.
These and other agriculture students arrived at 6 a.m. on showdays during the seventh week of summer and stayed for a minimum of 12 hours each day leading up to the competitions on July 17-20.
“I was surprised [when I won] because I honestly wasn’t trying to win first place,” Garcia said. “I didn’t do anything, so I was really surprised.”
Like Garcia, all animals entered at the fair for judging have been sold and delivered to their new owners. The buyers can choose what to do with the animals after that.
“I will be raising a pig [again] next year,” Stanfill said. “I want to win for our school again.”