Spotlight Leader - Candy Evenson
Interviewed by: Donna Martinez
Who: Candy Evenson, Livestock Manager Santa Barbara County Fair – Retired
Editor’s Note: Candy is one of my favorite people ever! For years I’d watch her manage 1500+ fair animals and all of the clubs, kids, parents, judges and public too! This is not a job for the faint hearted! You could always bet that she’d be willing to listen and ready to give you the truthful and direct answer. You could rest assured, that she’d give you the answer you needed…not necessarily the answer you wanted to hear. She always had the her priorities straight. Many leaders in our community welcomed her “Thursday Night before Fair” sermons. Here she set the tone for the show and established the priorties for each club to focus on. I wanted to showcase Candy because she has a great vantage point of the show ring and showing livestock. It is always beneficial to hear what management expects from the showmen and clubs. After 12 years of livestock management along with her years of other experiences, she’s seen it all! There isn’t a sickness, trick or game out there that she hasn’t had to deal with. She is a true gem. I hope you enjoy reading about this amazing woman of Ag. May it also be noted that Candy wouldn’t provide a picture for me…so here is one that I had! Gottcha Candy!
Always for your Animals & Kids,
I grew up on a farm on the east side of Santa Maria, California. My dad worked in town, my mom owned the farm. Now I own it. It was a vegetable farm, but I had chickens, goats, horses, rabbits, and the occasional head of cattle. My dad had two rules, no monkeys and no pigs. I never knew why no pigs, but was smart enough not to push the point. I was a collector of animals. I showed horses in my younger years, but found more pleasure in trail riding. I am trained in classical piano, but my first love is and was being outdoors. My parents kept us very busy. I was in Camp Fire throughout high school and was active in the First Christian Church fellowship until going away to college. We swam every day of the summer and if we were too rambunctious, Mom walked us from Oso Flaco Lake across the dunes to the ocean and back. Sometimes we made it as far as Mussel Rock on foot. This was an all-day endeavor and we had no rambunctious feelings left by the time we got home.
Today, I am a farmer, land owner, entrepreneur, agricultural activist, wife, mother, and probably a lot more. I think it is important to be well rounded. Whatever job I take on for that day gets my full attention and I expect to do it well. I still have animals, maybe just as many as when I was young. They are my passion and give me peace of mind. I consider myself to be a good steward of the land and believe that all agriculturalists are the original environmentalists.
My interest in showing animals came to the top the minute I stepped on the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA campus my freshman year of college. I took every animal science, fair management, and crop science class I could as electives, ending up with enough to minor in the first two. In 1967 I was hired to work my first year at the Santa Barbara County Fair in the livestock department and it fit right in with what I was learning at Cal Poly. I worked there six years running the Livestock Office, clerking, and working the auction. At that time, the auction was much smaller and all was done by pencil and paper in a partnership with the Bank of America. I finished Cal Poly with a degree in Ag Management and went on to living out of a suitcase for 5 years and working at different livestock shows, bull sales, and county fairs throughout the state of California. When I wasn’t working the actual shows/sales/fairs, I was mucking stalls, feeding, preparing animals for the show ring for people with senior division show strings shown at fairs etc. At that time there were junior and senior divisions showing at most fairs. Today, there are very few fairs that have senior divisions available for show in the same way. Senior (adult) divisions were a means of advertising and selling livestock throughout the state. They hauled animals to different fairs each week. Kind of a gypsy lifestyle. Now there is the internet, Jack Pot Shows throughout the country, and more formal forms of advertising. The senior divisions were phased out of the county fair system to make room for the ever growing 4-H, FFA, and Grange projects.
Eventually, I married and had a family and spent years being a wife and mother. But as with all children, mine grew up and I was offered the opportunity to accept the entries at the Santa Barbara County Fair and run the Livestock Department. This time I was there for 12 years. I always liked to call myself the “Queen of Manure” as that is quite a bit of the job, but Livestock Superintendent sounds more professional. It was a rewarding and fulfilling job. One that I thoroughly enjoyed and look back on fondly. It was hard to leave, but I found that it was time and I had other commitments looming on the horizon. I cherish the memories of working with exhibitors, leaders, and parents. Many friendships I made have continued to this day.
From the youngest and smallest mini members, to the exhibitors in their last year because of age limitations of the program, I tried to guide them with a few simple thoughts.
Going to the Fair is a privilege, not a right. You need to earn it. If you can’t abide by the rules, leave.
Always take care of your animals first. They depend on you for everything to live. You can feed yourself after you take care of them.
Be generous with your volunteer time. A kind word, a helping hand often means more than you will ever know. Someone helped you, and you should pass it forward.
Always be honest. If you cheat, you cheat yourself. Once you have lost someone’s trust you probably will never get it back.
Thank your leaders and parents for all that they do for you. They give up time and money for you to succeed. They are volunteers. Cherish those times. You couldn’t do it without their help. The years pass quickly and you will be the future leaders and parents.
If you start the program, finish the program. Every year is a new start. Few remember who won what place from year to year, but they all take notice if you quit or didn’t do your share. Be proud that you did it and finish.
Have fun, work hard, play hard.
Sincerely for You & Your Animals,