PENINSULA PROFILE: Teens live the farm life, prepare for Clallam fair
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Jake Smith, Colby Beckstrom and Emily Dybedal, from left, with Colby’s dog Libby. [--Photo by Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News]

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

Support Future Farmers, 4-H students at junior auction, Clallam Fair

■   THE CLALLAM COUNTY Junior Livestock Auction opens at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Clallam County Fairgrounds, 1608 W. 16th St., Port Angeles. Anyone interested in supporting youth in the 4-H and Future Farmers of America program, and who wants quality beef, lamb, pork, rabbit, chicken or turkey in the freezer is invited to join the bidding. Average weight purchases at the Junior Livestock Auction in recent years have been $3.01 per pound for steers; $3.30 per pound for lamb and $3.30 per pound for pork. Cutting, wrapping and curing or smoking of meats is paid for separately at a meat shop. Information will be available at the fair.

Fair-goers are also encouraged to make donations to the young farmers at the livestock show and auction.

■   THE 94TH ANNUAL Clallam County Fair, with its livestock, cat, dog, art, craft and culinary shows, carnival and live musical entertainment, runs Thursday through Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for seniors 62 and older and for students age 13 to 17. Children age 6 to 12 are admitted for $5 while kids age 5 and younger get in free when accompanied by an adult.

Carnival wristbands — all-you-can-ride passes — are $25 in advance only; they will not be sold at the fair. They can be purchased at:

■ Swain’s, 602 E. First St., Port Angeles

■ Higher Grounds Espresso, 802 S. C St., Port Angeles

■ Wilder Auto Center, 97 Deer Park Road, Port Angeles

■ Forks Outfitters, 950 S. Forks Ave., Forks

■ Pacific Mist Books, 121 W. Washington St., Sequim.

For more information, phone the fair office at 360-417-2551 or see

Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Sit around a table with these three, and one after another, the stereotypes about teenagers explode.

Jake Smith, 15, and Colby Beckstrom and Emily Dybedal, both 17, have been preparing this summer for a big deal: the 94th annual Clallam County Fair. As Jake’s mother Shannon Smith says, their college funds, aka livestock, are roaming the field.

Jake is the son of Troy and Shannon Smith of Maple View Farms, a Sequim operation since the Great Depression. A junior this fall at Sequim High School, Jake is a member of Future Farmers of America — but that “future” is now.

He runs the Sequim Valley Angus herd of cattle, and spends much of the year taking steers to fairs and shows, from Puyallup to Reno to Denver.

Jake said competing at such places — including this coming week’s Clallam County Fair — has taught him how to run a business. It’s a line of work he believes in wholeheartedly.

His next event is the livestock show at the fair Thursday; it’s the precursor to the Clallam County Junior Livestock Auction at 1 p.m. Saturday. This auction, with its steers, hogs, lamb and poultry, is the time to see Clallam’s agricultural heritage as well as its future.

But “the bidders have been dwindling,” at the auction, said Jaymie Van Gordon, a member of the junior livestock auction volunteer committee. She wants word to get out to newcomers.

“These kids raise good-quality animals,” she said, “and they work really, really hard.”

Colby, Van Gordon’s nephew, is part of a Clallam County family that has farmed here for many decades. Last year at the fair, his hog Ithaca won a pack of awards, including the Grand Champion Market Swine, best overall Junior Livestock Auction hog and the Elenbaas Grand Champion prize.

People stopped to marvel at Ithaca and to ask about his weight. How much and how fast were frequent questions.

A hog like this can put on as much as 2 pounds a day, said Colby, who’s been raising swine since he was 9.

Ithaca weighed 311 and auctioned for a handsome $5.11 per pound.

While Colby and Jake bring pork and beef, Emily will bring chickens — and she demands respect for them. Those big mammals are important, she acknowledges, but her chickens and eggs are likewise a key part of the nutritional picture.

Bringing poultry, steers and hogs to the fair also means learning all about quality assurance regulations and passing weight and veterinary checks. So the teens devote a lot of time to monitoring their animals’ health. Emily, for her part, has 29 roosters and hens in her care.

At the 2012 Clallam County Fair, Emily’s rooster Larry was the Grand Champion Market Chicken. He sold for $650.

Emily, who lives off Blue Mountain Road, also cares for four horses: Palomina, Fred, Millie and Taz, and competes in horse shows across the region.

Emily’s fair birds, meantime, have thrived because of her strong work ethic, said her mother Karen Dybedal. The experience has changed her daughter, making her more self-reliant.

“She started out very shy, not wanting to speak in public at all,” Dybedal added. “Now, she helps teach the new kids and talks to the public about her chickens with her head held high.

“I have watched her grow into a lovely, mature teenager,” added Emily’s mom, who also serves as superintendent of the 4-H and FFA poultry barn at the fair.

“This has been an amazing experience for her; for both of us.”

There’s a label, however, that some put on young farmers. Colby, a junior at Port Angeles High School, is familiar with it.


He doesn’t sweat it. Instead, he enrolls in advanced math and other high-level courses at Port Angeles High School, even as his classmates look at him in surprise and ask, “You’re in here?”

As for Jake, he wants his contemporaries to realize that without young farmers, the future of food would be bleak.

“I wish people could see both sides of farming and have a better knowledge of what we do to produce the food on their plates,” he said.

When asked what they do in their free time, the response is essentially “what free time?” Things like Facebook are not a big part of their lives.

“You’ll find that with a lot of 4-H and FFA kids,” said Colby, “you have
too much to do to sit down at a computer” for surfing and posting.

He’d like to go to Washington State University in Pullman or to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. Montana also looks good.

“I would love to go into agriculture,” Colby said when asked about his career plans. “But that’s a tough go.” Heavy-equipment work is a possibility — or some other line of work outdoors, “where I can breathe. I can’t work much inside,” he said.

Jake, meantime, has his sights set on the Midwest. He dreams of having a show-cattle ranch as well as a custom meat-cutting shop.

Indiana and Illinois are “where the good cattle are,” he declared. “I’d like to go to the heart of it.”

Emily’s career plans involve birds, but not the feathered types.

She is interested in aviation: building and/or repairing airplanes.

Years ago, her older brother Jens inspired her with his toy war planes.

At the fair this week, the teens and their families hope people will come out to support the 4-H and FFA students.

After all, Clallam County’s rural economy depends on farming, said Jake’s mother, Shannon.

“We want careers in agriculture,” she added.

“And we all need to eat.”

Last modified: August 10. 2013 7:17PM
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