Although a majority of community members only view the Stanislaus County Fair as a 10-day affair in July, those involved in Stanislaus County 4-H see it as a long term engagement in which they spend months preparing and anticipating for their chance to exhibit their animals.
At only 16 years old, Turlock High School sophomore Bobby Marchy has already devoted half of his life to Stanislaus County 4-H.
As the program’s Junior/Teen Leader and a member of the fair’s Junior Livestock Board, Marchy can be considered a practiced professional when it comes to getting ready for the annual event.
“My family and I grew up on a dairy,” said Marchy. “It was originally my grandpa’s and then my dad bought it from him, so we’ve always had that connection with dairy cattle.”
Despite the fact that Marchy has garnered experience working with dairy cattle throughout his entire life, he recently stepped out of his comfort zone to begin working with beef cattle as well.
“When my mom grew up, she showed beef cattle and she passed her knowledge on to me and my brothers,” said Marchy. “I really wanted to try different things because I want to get more involved.”
This year, the seasoned sophomore is expecting to show two dairy cows and one beef cow—and although the fair is still months away, Marchy is already going through the motions to thoroughly prepare his animals for the event.
“I’ve already participated in a couple shows earlier this year, so I like to have at least a month’s preparation before each show,” said Marchy. “But after that first month I keep them in a pasture at our house until the county fair.”
To initiate the preparatory process, Marchy selects the cow of his choice from his family’s dairy, Marchy Dairy, and begins with perfecting the nutritional and physical appearance of the cow by feeding them the right portion and type of feed, as well as washing the cattle on a frequent basis.
Marchy must also prepare the cattle mentally for the fair, as the show ring can often be loud and chaotic during exhibition times.
“The biggest challenge is getting them used to you and to a proper way of showing,” said Marchy. “They need to walk calmly, slowly, and not be really rambunctious because at the show ring it’s loud and there are a lot of people watching. We never know what’s going to happen.”
One way that Marchy equips his cattle for the atmosphere at the fair is by first getting the cattle used to the dogs at his family’s dairy.
“We have dogs and they’ll be running around,” said Marchy. “Sometimes when they come by they’ll get scared, but that just kind of helps them get used to quick, sudden movements.”
Marchy’s dedication to preparing his cattle nearly five months before the fair conveys just how excited the sophomore is for the annual event in July.
“My favorite part of all of this is just going to the fair and seeing all of my friends that I haven’t seen in that entire year’s span,” said Marchy. “It’s always fun to see other people’s achievements with their own animals as well as my own achievements.”