PASO ROBLES — It takes an army of volunteers like those from the Junior Fairboard to make the California Mid-State Fair run smoothly.
Each year, since the early days of the fair, the Junior Fairboard has been lending a hand. This year, there are 19 participants. In years past, its ranks have been as high as 30.
The group’s main duty is being ushers for the nightly concerts in the Chumash Grandstand Arena.
“Directing people to their seats, helping them out if they need anything, things like that,” said Junior Fairboard President Sophie Johnston, 21, of Atascadero.
This is Johnston’s fifth year on the Junior Fairboard. She is currently attending Cal Poly and is working toward someday being an FFA adviser. Initially she joined the fairboard to stay involved with the fair.
San Luis Obispo County residents between the ages of 16 and 20 years old can apply to be on the Junior Fairboard and once accepted can remain on the board until the age of 24.
“I was starting to age out of showing livestock and this was a good way to stay involved, working the weigh-ins or hog show days, auction days, as well as I get to see all of the concerts,” Johnston said.
Applicants are interviewed and voted on by a committee comprised of Junior Fairboard officers and the Junior Fairboard Committee Board of Directors. Johnston said she enjoys seeing the team come together.
“I like the diversity of kids that are in Junior Fairboard,” Johnston said. “Because some of the kids are really into the concerts and some members are really into the livestock side of it, so seeing them get together, communicate and make friendships. It’s really nice to see them work together as a team.”
Throughout the 12-day run of the fair, the Junior Fairboard members help with the day-to-day operations of the fair. In addition to the usher duties at the concerts, they help with Kids Day events such as the Diaper Derby and Tractor Races.
Johnston explains the Diaper Derby is a fun baby crawling race.
“The parents absolutely love it. It’s hilarious,” she said. “And then we have the tractor races, which are just little tricycles shaped like tractors. And so the race is for 2 year olds to 8 year olds and then we let anybody older than that participate afterwards as well. We facilitate that and get everything going.”The Junior Fairboard is also integral to the success of the annual livestock show and Saturday auction.
“We help with weigh-ins,” Johnston said “The logistics of moving all of the livestock, getting them to the weigh scales and organized safely. Just keeping everything moving.”
Once the California Mid-State Fair concludes the Junior Fairboard is also done for the year, but the friendships that result can last for a lifetime
“Lots of friendships are built over Junior Fairboard, a couple of marriages have even happened,” Johnston said. “I think there have been three weddings from Junior Fairboard members. We all keep in touch.”