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Animals are key to the L.A. County Fair experience

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Katie Wold cares for Smokey, a 12-year-old Shetland pony, at her temporary home in the Fairview Farms section of the Los Angeles County Fair. Smokey is due to give birth in two weeks and Wold hopes that the birth will take place during the Fair. Smokey is staying right outside of the Big Red Barn at the northeast section of the fairgrounds. / photo by Scott Mirimanian

Megan Sebestyen
Staff Writer

Seeing animals is a quintessential element of going to the fair and is just as important as eating deep-fried Twinkies and winning a giant stuffed animal at Skeeball.

All the usual animals were present at this year’s Los Angeles County Fair: cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and adorable baby bunnies.

But more unusual counterparts accompanied these animals; baby Tibetan yaks, emus, Kookaburras, kangaroos and monkeys.

Understandably, most fairgoers had never seen a baby yak before and most thought they were small, furry cows.

The fair provided an opportunity for fair-goers to observe and learn about both the exotic and familiar animals they encountered.

“You don’t see a yak every day,” Deeann Barada, animal nursery worker, said. “It’s nice for people to have an experience [seeing] the animals.”

Barada sat in the straw with the baby yaks, petting them and fielding questions from the awe-struck crowd as they set eyes upon the unusual animals.

“The public had a lot of questions about them,” Barada said as the baby yaks playfully head-butted her.

“At three and a half months old, the yaks are big, friendly babies,” Barada said.

“But when full-grown, the yaks will weigh up to 1,800 pounds.”

“People really get a kick when they see me sitting here with the animals,” Barada said.

She said that she thinks it is a great opportunity for people to see and learn about yaks when they come to the fair, since it is not a common experience.

Robert and Mary Garcia from Norwalk were among the fascinated crowd gazing at the baby yaks.

“We come to the fair every year,” Robert Garcia said. “But this is our first time seeing the yaks. We thought they were big horses.”

For Mary Garcia, going to the fair would not be complete without seeing the animals.

“The piglets and the shopping are the highlights of my fair visits,” Maria Garcia said.

For fair worker Danny Munoz from Covina, educating the fair-goers is the most rewarding part of the job.

“If [people] live in the city, they never really learn about the country and the animals there,” Munoz said.

“We’re kinda in the city here,” Munoz said. “So people are amazed at the animals.”

Munoz works at the Fair assisting with demonstrations of milking dairy cows.

Crowds gather for the daily demonstrations and watch in awe as the 1800 pound black and white cows are milked, yielding up to three to six gallons at a time.

“[People] are amazed to see such a big huge animal in front of them,” Munoz said.

“If they live in the city they never really learn about the country and see where their food comes from.”

Fair worker Patricia Weaver added that people often don’t know much about the usual animals.

From her post selling animal food near Tonto the Ram, Weaver said that many people even confuse the goats and sheep.

“A lot of kids have never seen these animals before,” Weaver said. “It’s fun to see them watch and touch the animals.”

Brian Evans, the manager of two barns at the fair, said he loves watching people’s reactions and amazement with the animals. Evans said from the people who stick their hands inside the cages trying to pet an animal to those who are scared of the animals, “There’s always new reactions every day.”

“It’s always great to see people learning about the animals and the livestock,” said Evans.

Megan Sebestyen can be reached at

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