Auction features handcrafted designs from local youth

The annual event, sponsored by Airgas, is a crowd-favorite at Mid-State Fair

Find unique, handcrafted creations from local youth at the annual Industrial Arts Display and Auction during the 2017 California Mid-State Fair. This year, visit all the projects in a new location, The Barn on Equestrian Lane, where they will be on display for the duration of the fair. Be sure to make a bid on your favorite items at the Industrial Arts Auction, to be held in the Livestock Pavilion on Cattlemen and Farmer’s Day, Thursday, July 21 following the awards ceremony at 1:30 p.m.

Sponsored by Airgas, along with Cuesta College, the Industrial Education Program is designed to showcase the many talents of local student fabricators. High school industrial and technology education instructors throughout San Luis Obispo County oversee the students as they design and create a variety of projects. The students use basic and advanced techniques to produce barbeque grills, trailers, utility racks, wine racks, shop benches, porch swings, coffee tables, and more; each project must have been completed within the past year.

A first-place winner in the Industrial Arts Display & Auction, this guitar of chain, sprocket, bolt, and more by Jared Thompson hangs on display.

The 2017 judges include Mike Fontes, Jeff Parker, and Adam Traver. All entries are eligible for prizes and awards, and will remain on exhibit through the duration of the fair; first and second place projects may enter the auction. The Airgas Industrial Education Program was started nearly 25 years ago, and last year alone raised over $60,000 for the students at the annual project auction. Event organizers Blake Wallis and Debbie Twisselman have been involved with the Industrial Arts Display and Auction for many years – Blake for about 23, and Debbie for about 18.

“Bidding and buying at the auction helps to keep these kids involved,” said Twisselman. “It’s important because it helps the kids understand that what they have built and what they have learned can lead to a career. This is our future, and it needs to include encouraging these vocational skills within our youth.”

Wallis adds, “These kids create projects that are one-of-a-kind and the buyer is able to own a unique item that was made by a local student. We are big supporters of all of the schools in the county and all of the instructors that help these students with vocational training. We think it’s important for community members to show their support as well by coming out and viewing the projects, talking with the students, making a bid, and maybe buying one of these items.”

Awards are given in numerous categories including: Special Metal, Best of Show, Special Wood, Special Merit, Drafting, Best Fair Theme, Junk-A-New, and Basic Welding. Sponsors include: Airgas, Bow Valley Agri-Land Services, Central Coast Barns & Buildings, Coast Pipe, First Solar, La Panza Ranch, and JMR Manufacturing.

The Best of Show winner is awarded a much-coveted custom-made belt buckle, sponsored by Suzie and John LaPrino and crafted by Gordon Hayes of Bits of Silver. Additional prizes include: MIG welders, donated by Lincoln Electric and Miller Electric; plasma cutters, donated by Hypertherm; oxygen/acetlyene outfits, donated by Victor and Harris companies; auto darkening lens welding helmets, donated by Kimberly Clark; Metabo Tools, Tillman gloves, and various items donated by Airgas and other community supporters.