The Colusa County Fair Foundation is once again kicking off the county’s biggest annual exposition, which will run June 7-10, with a wild expo of its own on June 6.
The five teams out raising money to help the Foundation maintain the Colusa County Fairgrounds will do more than kiss a pig this year, organizers said.
This year’s Pigs, Chickens & Pickin’ will blend extreme animal showmanship and healthy competitiveness, with a little bluegrass music thrown in for good measure.
“We’re really taking our event up a notch,” said Shiela Etchepare, Colusa County Fair Foundation secretary. “It’s going to be highly competitive.”
Last year’s Kiss the Pig competition, which was also held the night before the opening of the Colusa County Fair, raised $44,449 for fairground renovations and repairs. Last year’s winners Joe Kalfsbeek, Don Traynham and Matt LaGrande – as a trio – raised $15,071 to win the competition, although solo player Ken English, a member of the Fair Foundation, raised nearly $11,000 on his own.
Five teams have signed on for the challenge this year and will be counting on the community to push them to the top with their donations.
Team 1, “The Maxwell Margaritas,” consisting of Cristy Edwards, Kelly Wells Haywood, and Kellie Kennedy Dennis, were the first to sign up for the challenge.
“When we were approached, of course there isn’t any way to turn that down,” Edwards said. “This is incredibly important to our 4-H members, our FFA members, our Grange members, and our independents and our community for so many reasons. I have found myself many times on the side of fundraising for our great community events, and I have also found that if it’s fun, people are more inclined to participate.”
Team 2 is Colusa’s own Toby Reading, Nick Reading, and Kathie Whitesell, also known as “The Reading Rednecks.”
Team 3, “The Barnyard Beauties in Bikinis,” is comprised of Sandy Ottenwalter, Lisa Selover, and Lexi Hernandez.
Team 4 is Hal Charter, Jode Ehrke, and Todd Hartill, of Arbuckle, also known as the A-Team.
Team 5 consists of Bruce Rolen, Larry LaGrande, and Fred Gobel, of Williams.
The Colusa County Fair Foundation was established in 2014 to raise money to help revitalize buildings and improve the fairgrounds, and has since been behind the scenes making improvements to the facility, not only for the enjoyment of the public and preservation of the Fair’s heritage, but the viability of the fairgrounds for events that generate income. The next multi-year project will be the renovation of Festival Hall.
“Our fairgrounds are in need of many maintenance issues, and our county needs to be independent about providing those funds,” said Edwards. “This is one way the Fair Foundation came up with to attract interest and raise money to address those funding issues.”
Although each team will be vying for exclusive financial support from their “sources,” the important thing is for the community to also support the event itself, Etchepare said.
Everyone is invited to come out to the TK Marshall Pavilion at the Colusa County Fairgrounds on June 6 to root for their favorite teams as they compete in a wacky round of extreme animal showmanship, to enjoy food provided by the Lions Club, and listen to the award-winning bluegrass band “Riley Hill and the Brand New Still” band.
There is no admission to get into the fairgrounds, as this is a free community event.
The music starts at 5 PM and the showmanship starts at 6 PM. Donation tickets for the teams can be purchased in advance, but donations will also be accepted at the event.
“You can pick one team or two teams, or you can support all the teams,” Etchepare said.
“The Colusa County Fair Foundation is an amazing group of volunteers who work so hard to support our fair, and we are thrilled to pitch in,” said Jody Ehrke, of the A Team. “We hope to represent Arbuckle not only by the dollar amount raised, but by the amount of people that take part and contribute.”
All three A Team members grew up in Colusa County showing animals in our county fair. Now, they are parents of showman.
“My two children show lambs, Halbert’s kids are showing a pig and a steer, and Todd has three boys all showing steers,” she said.
“We want to raise awareness among the kids (4H & FFA members) about all of the members of our county that give to them, the youth,” she said. “We have talked at both the 4H and FFA meetings this month to let them know about the generous people in our community.”
Representing the first team to sign up, Edwards said they’re not giving up their fundraising secrets, but said because the Colusa County Fair provides so many opportunities for children; provides a catalyst to educate people about food production; teaches youth responsibility, work skills and ethics; showcases the community’s talent in mechanics, art, photography, cooking, quilting; and provides a great fun community activity every single year, then the Maxwell Margaritas is asking each exhibitor at this year’s fair to make a $1 donation on Team 1’s behalf.
“They all win, and truthfully their very future depends on it,” Edwards said. “We also hope to attract donations from anyone within our community who understands how important this is for our county’s future. Our backup plan is humor, lots and lots of humor, but we can’t give that part away. You will just have to come out and watch our showmanship skills for that.”
Ehrke said while she was not part of the Kiss the Pig competition last year, her brother, Matt LaGrande, was on the winning team.
She hopes some of that magic wears off and that the community comes out to support the A Team so they take the win this year.
You can support your teams at the event, or by donating in advance by purchasing a ticket at Messick Ace Hardware, Colusa County Fairgrounds office, Kim’s Country Cafe, from any Colusa County Fair Foundation member or any member of a team.
Tickets can be purchased in any amount and for any team specified.