In a year all about social distancing and online learning, some local students forged ahead with hands-on education. Their efforts will be on display at the San Joaquin AgFest Junior Livestock & Auction scheduled for June 11-19 at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton.

The annual show is put on by an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and support of 4-H and FFA organizations.

“Last year was virtual, so everyone is excited to be live in person this year,” said Molly Watkins, a longtime AgFest volunteer. “The silver lining (during the pandemic) was the kids could touch the animals, and whatever their project was they could handle their animal and drag it around, or in some cases have it drag them around.”

Entries are up this year with the show going live again, but still quite a bit down from the last live show two years ago, Watkins said.

“Some schools weren’t in when students had to pick projects. We’re down, but pleased with the numbers.”

Last weekend, the San Joaquin-Stanislaus CattleWomen hosted a beef field day at the fairgrounds to help kids prepare for the AgFest experience.

More than a dozen market steers and heifers were brought to the field day.

Mary Jo Perry and Lyndsee Cracraft, who are experts in showing cattle, helped exhibitors by practicing showmanship and demonstrating how to clip and groom an animal. The San Joaquin-Stanislaus CattleWomen and the Galt Livestock Auction provided lunch for all the participants.

There are 63 steers entered in this year’s AgFest market beef show, up from 46 last year. The beef show will be held on June 13.

AgFest consists of numerous competitions throughout the week, including:

• Agriculture mechanics, which focuses on metal and woodworking projects.

• Entomology, where participants display an insect collection.

• Horticulture, featuring gardening skills, with divisions for vegetables, fruits, nuts and herbs.

• Florticulture, highlighting creative green thumbs, from potted plants and cut flowers grown at home to floral arrangements or container/dish gardens.

• A dog show featuring an obedience course and showmanship skills.

• Breeding shows including poultry, rabbits, cavies, dairy cattle, breeding beef, boer and dairy goats, sheep and gilts (young female pigs).

• Market shows for turkeys, meat birds, rabbits, beef cattle, goats, sheep and swine.

Watkins said the livestock auction will be held on June 19 and will be simulcast live. For a link to the auction and more information, visit sanjoaquinagfest.org.

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