FFA members win State Fair Grand Champions

Celilo Brun repeats in Steer competition; Eric SantaCruz wins mechanics, goat honors

HRVHS FFA Chapter members Celilo Brun, a junior, with Steer Grand Champion.

Submitted photo
HRVHS FFA Chapter members Celilo Brun, a junior, with Steer Grand Champion.



The Hood River Valley FFA Chapter reports having a successful Oregon State Fair for the second consecutive year.

The chapter won second place banners in the following static exhibits: Hay and Grain, Vegetable, Nursery, and Beef Herdsmanship. Emily Morgan was the Champion Novice Swine Showman.

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Eric SantaCruz, Class of 2018, with the trailer he built, the Grand Champion Ag Mechanics entry.

Two more students from Hood River Valley High School stood out, including a repeat Grand Championship.

Celilo Brun won Grand Champion Market Steer for the second consecutive year in the State Fair Market Show, showing two steers. Eric SantaCruz exhibited the Champion Ag Mechanics Trailer, which was selected as Grand Champion entry.

“It feels pretty awesome” said Brun, a junior who started in 4-H in the fourth grade.

‘‘It’s a lot of work. I went into it thinking, ‘Anything can happen,’ and to come out winning was an amazing feeling.”

“It was good to see the hard work pay off,” said SantaCruz, a 2018 graduate.

That includes running and feeding his goats twice a day. He will also take them to shows in San Francisco and Arizona.

SantaCruz has enrolled at Blue Mountain Community College to study diesel mechanics. He built the tilt-deck trailer with the help of advisor (and trailer owner) Don Schmidt and friends, from blueprints he acquired online.

Both Brun and SantaCruz have been involved in FFA since the eighth grade, and both came up through the Mt. Hood 4-H Club.

Brun serves as FFA chapter secretary and as Sentinel for the district officer team. As Sentinel, she helps the president welcome attendees, prepare materials and, she said, to maintain order.

SantaCruz also won Grand Champion Market Goat in the State Fair Market Show, with a Boer that “was not that cooperative.”

Of the goat’s jumpiness in the ring, he said, “I just ignored it.” The judges liked the goat’s muscularity and structural correctness, he said.

Brun said that for the show ring, animal preparations include washing, grooming and exercising, but the hard work starts in the barn and pen long before the competition:

Developing the animal’s muscle memory so it moves and stands in the show ring just the right way takes a couple of hours of work each week, according to Brun.

For Brun and her animals, showing is “also a really big mental game: you have to have the right attitude going into it,” and she said the animals pick up on the human’s mental state.

“They can sense if you’re scared,” she said.

Brun and her animals are veterans of numerous competitions known as Jackpots, and she will take her steers to a Jackpot this fall in Billings, Mont. The goal is to reach the top 20, making the animal eligible for auction, and to sell one of them back here.

SantaCruz passed along “thanks to everyone who helped me get to State Fair.”



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