During the first four decades of its existence, Future Farmers of America (FFA) was strictly a boys club, helping to develop the next generation of agriculturists – male agriculturists. It wasn’t until 1969 that the National FFA declared that girls were to be permitted to all chapters, including those in Sonoma County. Today, women hold half of all leadership positions in FFA.
Prior to 1969, the only way girls could participate in FFA was as a “Sweetheart.” According to Pat Pedersen (1931-2010), Sonoma County Fair’s FFA Sweetheart contest was established in the late 1950s after Wesley Jamison (1907-1989), Sonoma County Fair board member at the time, had seen such a contest in Georgia and thought Sonoma County could benefit from a similar event.
Pat Pedersen was a judge for two years before she was asked to be the director of the contest in 1964, a job she held for a number of years.
Contestants of the Sweetheart contest were judged for appearance, poise, stage presentation, and other technicalities. Winners received a cash award and took part in a number of fair activities.
Can you help us identify the sweethearts in this Sonoma County Library photo? If so, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org