SYV Star Staff

For Maddie Bramsen of Santa Ynez, showing pigs at the Santa Barbara County Fair became a serious endeavor at the age of 10, when she won her first competition.

Now, seven years later, Maddie was elated when she and this year’s pig, Mr. Kisses, not only won 4-H Grand Champion but also Supreme Champion at the Santa Barbara County Fair.

“He was just a perfect pig, sound in body and very full. He walked perfectly in the showmanship arena, and I was really excited,” Maddie said.

The Santa Barbara County Fair, which ran this year form Jul 12-16 at the Santa Maria Fairpark, is the highlight event for a lot of kids who show pigs, cows, chickens, rabbits, goats and other animals.

“I look forward to it every year, and it really teaches you about animals and responsibility,” she said.

Maddie is a member of the Valley 4-H Club and plans to be active one more year, or possibly two. A senior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, she is already planning her future and planning to work in agriculture.

“I am going to attend Cuesta College and then transfer to either Oklahoma or Texas A&M and major in agricultural business and minor in animal science,” Maddie said.

She ultimately wants to have a career in livestock nutrition and be the one who creates food formulas to keep livestock healthy.

Beyond the county fair, Maddie shows her pigs year round all over the state through the Junior Livestock Association.

“Of course the fair is where we also have fun. If I only do it one more time next summer, it will be surreal,” she said.

Other local youth who took home ribbons included Melissa Brocke, who took first place for her turkey, and first-timer Caleb Moon. Caleb’s family has had generations of fair participants and his mother, Robyn Christian Moon, said she was excited to get him involved, even though it was in horticulture. Caleb who is just 6 years old, took home three first-place ribbons.

Peyton Pratt and her pig Tank, who were featured in our first July issue, took eighth place in swine.

Attendance at this year’s fair increased by more than 6 percent, according to Santa Maria Fairpark officials. An increase of 9,854 visits brought this year’s total attendance to 158,652. The number of people taking carnival rides during the five-day run also increased by 9 percent, and food and beverage sales increased by about 6 percent, according to preliminary figures.

“We’re thrilled with the results of the 2017 fair. It indicates that the community appreciates what a great value the fair is, with strong entertainment, great food, fun rides, lots of animals, and great weather. The strong showing at the gate tells us that we put together the right combination of promotions and attractions to interest people, even with two large wildfires to compete with,” said Richard Persons, the fairpark CEO.

Attractions for 2017 included four nights of mainstream musical and comedy acts, with shows by .38 Special, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, John Michael Montgomery and Leann Rimes. Fair officials consider the Gabriel Iglesias comedy show to be the largest crowd ever drawn to a main-stage act at the fair, with a crowd estimated at 8,500 people. To accommodate the large numbers, a video wall was placed on the stage so that people arriving late could still see the show.

The fair’s exhibit halls were filled with nearly 5,000 competitive exhibits ,with blue ribbon winners in many hundreds of categories, and approximately 2,000 head of livestock. Los Alamos Grange won the pen decorating competition.

The Rabobank Discovery Pavilion featured Bug-Ology, an interactive educational exhibit all about insects in the Armory Building, while the Ag Pavilion moved to the Park Plaza building.

A full complement of slicers and dicers competed with beds, skin care products, fancy knife sets, and other wares inside the Marketplace Pavilion presented by Honda and Toyota of Santa Maria.

The Marketplace Pavilion also included the new CoastHills wine bar feature, where fairgoers looking for a respite could get a glass of wine and listen to acoustic guitar played by local musicians.

Strolling acts made free mini-shows available at all hours. They included Sterling the Bubblesmith, a surprise hit as he created clouds of soap bubbles for children to play in, and two princesses strolling the park in character and providing photo opportunities.

For more information, visit