This week marks one of the best times of the year — it’s time to kick off the Lassen County Fair.
Held at the fairgrounds every July, the fair embodies the spirit of our mountain community. From parades and rodeos to live music and livestock auctions, the Lassen County Fair celebrates the community’s rich heritage, fostering a sense of pride and unity.
Growing up, the county fair and livestock auction were staple events for my family. My father, an avid livestock enthusiast, showcased and sold animals more than 50 years ago. When I became old enough, I eagerly followed in his footsteps, raising and selling pigs and steers, which helped me pay my way through college. This family tradition has happily continued with my three children.
Hat Creek Construction & Materials has been a proud sponsor of the livestock auction and music concerts since 2009 because it represents a win-win-win for the community with positive impacts that can ripple throughout life. We’re deeply passionate about it, and I’m proud to give back to a program that has enriched my life and countless others in our community.
The livestock auction offers local Future Farmers of America and 4-H kids a foundational platform to learn responsibility, empathy, the value of hard work, and entrepreneurship.
By taking care of animals consistently – cue the daily 5 a.m. alarm – children are learning important life skills that extend far beyond animal husbandry. By feeding, grooming, and tending to their animal’s needs, they’re fostering empathy, compassion, and respect for all creatures.
They’re also learning how to interact professionally with adults, negotiate, keep budgets, and how to turn a profit, which also creates a sense of self-respect, pride, and a keen understanding of the importance of follow-through and commitment.
Outside of the show arena, FFA provides additional opportunities for personal growth, including regional, state, and national conventions. I had the privilege of serving as a president on a parliamentary procedure team, where we learned how to run public meetings legally, debate both sides of an issue, and think on our feet.
These experiences, coupled with the responsibility of raising and selling animals, prepared me for life in ways that formal education couldn’t match. It taught me critical thinking, negotiation skills, and the ability to adapt – all invaluable skills in the business world.
The livestock auction also connects and brings out the best in our community to rally around our kids. It’s not uncommon for neighbors to bid against themselves just to ensure the kids make a profit.
One of my favorite memories is from around 10 years ago. A young girl with a rare illness ended up needing a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She had been raising and selling animals for years, and the wheelchair didn’t stop her. She showed her pigs from her wheelchair, and we raised a record amount of money for her bright future.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house because her grit and determination inspired everyone. This kind of support not only restores faith in humanity but also reinforces the notion that we are investing in our community’s future.
And that investment has a funny way of boomeranging back into your life. Hat Creek Construction and Materials has several employees who are former FFA and 4-H kids, which was a major selling point during the hiring process.
I would encourage my fellow business owners to support the fair however they can because it’s more than just promoting their brand; they are investing in their community and the future workforce. We’re fostering an environment where children can learn, grow, and develop skills that will serve them throughout their lives.
And that’s always a cause worth investing in.