If there's one thing to be said about 4-H members, it's that they're made of strong stuff.
For most people, losing a cherished animal is a trying experience that stays with you for years and not one eagerly repeated.
But for those young people involved in the organization's animal projects showcased at the Prince George Exhibition, it's an experience some of them go through on an annual basis.
After at least six months of rearing, caring for, and connecting to their rabbit, goat, sheep, swine, cattle, poultry, or more, the last day of the PGX is also the last day many club members will see their animal if it was sold for slaughter or breeding during Saturday's auction.
"It feels like rocks slowly crushing your heart," explained Rebecca Johnson. The 11-year-old Beaverley club member was in good spirits Sunday afternoon despite knowing it was her last day with her sheep Mickey. But that was because she had gotten everything out of her system.
"I already cried all night last night," the first-year club member said, her tears long shed and soaked into Mickey's coat.
One of the biggest misconceptions about 4-H club members is that they're heartless because they do sell their animals, said Pineview club member Mikayla Jackson.
"It's my sixth year and it still hurts," said the 18-year-old junior leader for sheep projects. "You learn to control it a little better, but it still hurts."
The time they spend with their animals is passed attempting to give them the best possible life, Jackson said, and that personal touch isn't something you're guaranteed when you grab a package of meat from a grocery store.
The final goodbyes happen behind closed doors, once the fair is closed for the year. Jackson said the emotion doesn't really hit until the trailers are backed up and the animals begin to get loaded for a destination that's not home with them.
It's a time when the community comes together, a mixture of family and fellow club member comfort.
"We know what each other's going though," Jackson said.
The mood in the 4-H barn was a mixture of giddy and subdued on the last day of the fair, as the mixture of emotions competed with the general exhaustion after nearly week of early mornings and hard work.
The new people, new experiences and teamwork keeps Jackson coming back to 4-H year after year and she said she'll likely stick with it until she ages out at 21.
Throughout the fair, which is the finale to a 4-H year that begins with a November sign up, club members tend to the animals, clean stalls and rotate on barn duty where they talk to the public and keep an eye out for mischief - intended or accidental.
One year Jackson caught teenagers throwing lit hay at her lamb and this year Johnson said someone was mistakenly trying to feed her sheep popcorn.
"You never know what could happen," Jackson said.
There's also the onerous task of show preparations on Thursday and Friday, which paid off for Johnson, who won reserve champion for grooming.
But while winning a prize is nice, Jackson said she doesn't put much stock in it with her group.
"I don't care what anyone gets, as long as they get in there and show their animal," she said. "It's more the experience you learn from, not the kind of ribbon you get."