Double champion: First-time winner takes top two prizes
TULELAKE — This year’s Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair Junior Livestock Auction only featured one Grand Champion market hog. But that’s because one person took both Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion honors for raising hogs.
Gonzalo Ramirez, 16, of Tulelake FFA said this was the first time he had won a championship in six years of showing, so he was shocked to take home the extremely rare double championship.
“I really couldn’t believe it at first,” he said. “It feels amazing.”
Gonzalo is following in the footsteps of his mother, Sarah, and aunt, Gloria in raising hogs for the fair.
“He’s a hard-worker, so I’m very proud of him,” Sarah Ramirez said, who added that Gonzalo had spent upwards of 15 hours a day cutting and bailing hay through much of the summer.
“He’s not your normal kid who’ll sit there and play video games,” she said.
Aunt Gloria Ramirez said it was very exciting to see Gonzalo achieve the honor. She said Gonzalo and her daughter, Victoria, both raise hogs and often help each other out.
“I couldn’t have done this without my aunt and my cousin,” Gonzalo said.
He said raising hogs is more of a hobby than a way of life for him, but he enjoys it.
“I have a great time raising pigs,” he said. “Even though it does take up most of your time, it’s still really fun. (They get) really attached to you.”
A junior at Tulelake High School and an athlete in football and soccer, Gonzalo said he plans to go into the U.S. Army after graduating for either Special Forces training or to learn how to be a mechanic. He said he also plans to attend college after the Army and has been saving the money he’s earned from showing hogs to help with that.
With two years left to show, he said his goal for next year is to win showmanship class.
“And hopefully take Grand or Reserve (Champion) again,” he added.