The fairest family in the land
The steer weight-guessing booth at the Nevada County Fair holds a special place in the hearts of Steve and Carolyn Steele.
It was at this fair stand in 1974 where the Rough and Ready couple first discovered their mutual passion for farming and animals. Thirty years later, they are being honored as the fair’s Family of the Year.
“We were both in Future Farmers of America and working at the fair that year when we first started dating,” Carolyn Steele said. “I came to relieve Steve of his shift at the weight- guessing steer booth, but he decided to stick around and talk with me instead.”
The two now own and operate Hog Hollow Farm in Rough and Ready and are active participants in 4-H, FFA, in maintaining the fair facilities and in annual activities.
“The fair holds a special place for us,” Steve Steele said. “It kind of serves as our second anniversary each year.”
The Steeles’ two children, Daniel and Elizabeth, are also avid fair participants, raising show animals for the junior auction and livestock exhibits, fair CEO Ed Scofield said.
“Their whole family is involved and willing to lend a hand in every area,” Scofield said.
The family of the year is selected by the fair’s board of directors, and the honor is given to a local family that is actively involved with the fair all year long, Scofield said.
When Steve and Carolyn first began dating while at Nevada Union High School, they fantasized about someday owning their own farm and staying involved in the agricultural community, Carolyn said.
After Steve returned home from the Army in 1978, Carolyn said, the two were married and soon acquired the land they own today from Steve’s parents.
“We always hoped we’d get to the point when we would own our own farm and could raise our own animals,” Carolyn said.
For the past 12 years, the Steeles have donated some of the 25,000 pigs they produce each year for children to raise and sell in the Junior Livestock Auction at the fair.
Although difficult, farming offers essential life lessons to children and is important for maintaining agricultural awareness in the community, the Steeles said.
“Farming teaches kids work ethics and about the importance of dedication in order to make things grow,” Steve said. “It has really helped our own children mature.”
In addition to raising swine, Steve is a supervisor for Nevada County’s equipment maintenance shop, and Carolyn tutors autistic children in the area.
Each year when the fair rolls around, Carolyn said Steve likes to take her back to the steer weight-guessing booth to reminisce about their first date and to tell the story of how they first met to the FFA kids working at the exhibit.
“Steve loves to tell the kids in FFA today at the fair about how we met,” she said. “It amuses him to watch their eyes get big and see the boys and girls start to move away from each other.”
Know and go
What: Nevada County Fair
When: Aug. 11-15
Where: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley
Events: Blue-ribbon exhibits, carnival rides, petting zoo, live music, livestock shows, Monster Trucks, food booths, and more.
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