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December 8, 2023

‘A tastebud explosion:’ Santa Cruz County Fair opens

After four months of being raised by a Watsonville High School student, Stinkers the pig is ready for market.

The 252-pound Hampshire cross was lazing in her pen Wednesday, soon after the Santa Cruz County Fair opened and after she waddled with a third-place ribbon for showmanship, and a first-place prize for marketability.

During her piglet-hood, Stinkers was known to be frisky, frequently getting the “zoomies” as she broke into a run during her twice-daily walks.

Once, the pig even chased a passing bicyclist, says Hailey Brooks, 16, who raised the pig as part of her school’s FFA program.

Last year, Brooks’ pig fetched $15 per pound, earning her a couple of thousands of dollars she put into this year’s project. She plans to use profits from Stinkers to raise a steer for next year’s fair.

Brooks says she’ll be sad when she sells the pig at auction on Saturday, but says she understands that is part of raising animals. She hopes to attend UC Davis, where she wants to study biology and go to veterinary school.

“It’s been a great experience for me,” she says. “I love what I’ve learned.”

Hundreds of people walked through the gates when they opened at noon, flocking to the animal exhibits, art displays and of course the food vendors.

New this year is Fry Burger, a Eureka-based business that offers what owner Trevyn Mullins describes as a “one-of-a-kind cheeseburger.”

Mullins says he was at home experimenting with different burger cooking methods when he threw a patty into hot oil.

“My family liked it, and now all my customers like it,” he says. “So it’s great to share it with them.”

The deep-fried burger that evolved from that momentous experiment has garnered fans at numerous fairs across the state, and a mention by celebrity chef Guy Fieri on his show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

“It’s a tastebud explosion,” he says. 

The Santa Cruz County Fair is open every day through Sunday. For information, visit santacruzcountyfair.com.


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