There’s a new addition to the livestock show at the San Benito County Fair this year: Challenger showmanship. It comes thanks to two local twin teenagers who want to give young people with special needs an opportunity they’ve never had before.
Challenger showmanship lets physically and developmentally disabled participants ages 5 to 25 experience livestock showmanship with a buddy.
San Benito High School sophomores Anthony and Jonathan Flamenco-Daigle didn’t grow up in agriculture, but started showing livestock with the Future Farmers of America last year. Both of them play football for the high school and volunteer their time with the Hollister Little League Challenger Division baseball team at Veterans Memorial Park on weekends.
Some of the Challenger baseball families expressed concern that their kids had never had the experience of raising animals, much less spend time around them.
“The boys have a soft place for kids with disabilities,” said Lindsay Daigle, the boys’ mother. For weeks, the teens kicked around ideas to incorporate the Challenger kids in some kind of animal activity.
That’s when Anthony came up with the idea of a Challenger showmanship event at the fair. The boys took their plan to the San Benito County Fair Board and got it approved.
The twins already have seven signups for the showmanship and are accepting same-day signups as well.
Daigle said she drops the boys off at the Ag Barn at San Benito High School every morning at 6 to take care of their pigs, named Chance and Zeus. The boys attend school and a three-hour football practice, then head back to the Ag Barn for nighttime chores.
“These boys are very dedicated and I’m so proud of them for changing these kids lives,” Daigle said.
Anthony and Jonathan took their earnings from showing pigs last year and put them toward starting the event. They expect to have volunteers from 4-H, FFA and high school life skills to help show their animals.
“I am very excited to add an event to our fair that is inclusive to more members of our community,” said San Benito County Fair Manager Dara Tobias. “It is always a good thing to give everyone a chance to learn about agriculture and best practices in care and handling of our livestock animals.”
Kids participating in the Challenger showmanship will get to show an animal with a buddy, receive a ribbon and walk away winners.
“I have enjoyed meeting Anthony and Jonathan and I am very proud of them for reaching out to people living with challenges to include them in our Fair Livestock experience,” said Tobias.
San Benito County Fair’s Challenger showmanship is Sunday, Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. in the Small Show Ring at Bolado Park Event Center.
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