Junior Livestock Show will go on

Kristina Blüm Justice
Staff Writer

With the Tri-County Fairgrounds facing “catastrophic” economic loss with all the spring and summer events that have been canceled, “there’s one event we will save and not cancel, and that is the 2020 Junior Livestock Show and Sale,” according to a letter from Fairgrounds CEO Jen McGuire and the Junior Livestock Show board to potential sponsors.
“Everything these kids learn in FFA and 4-H are so important in everyday life,” McGuire said Wednesday. “It’s such a great program and we just can’t lose it.”
In the past, the fairgrounds has covered the operations cost for the annual Junior Livestock Show and Auction, using any community donations and sponsors to cover the cost of awards for the participants.
However, this year, with the fairgrounds losing more than $300,000 in revenue so far this spring, this year’s show will have to be funded entirely by donations and sponsors, and the fairgrounds is turning to the community for help.
“From $5 to $500, every bit helps,” McGuire said.
The actual logistics of the show are still being decided. McGurie said it will probably be mid June before the event organizers will know if they can have a traditional show, and even then, it will probably look a little different from previous years, with additional precautions taken due to COVID-19. The show will go on, regardless of whether it is held at the fairgrounds or virtually.
Virtual junior livestock shows and auctions have become popular throughout the United States, McGuire said, and have actually proven to be quite successful. With the current turmoil in the meat industry, more people than ever have been interested in purchasing FFA and 4-H meat, and holding auctions online has opened the door to tap into a whole new audience of potential buyers.
“I’ve had people from Gardnerville, Lancaster and Ridgecrest contacting me wanting to buy animals,” McGuire said. “If the auction is done online, we could reach people from all different walks who want to help the kids.”
In an online show, each exhibitor would follow set criteria and guidelines to film their animal. The videos would then be appraised by a professional judge. Animals would be listed for an auction, likely for a few days, with the last hour or so being an all-out bidding frenzy.
“It’s really exciting to watch that last hour,” McGuire said. “If we go that route, the kids would still get their awards and they’d still be recognized for their accomplishments.”
While the fairgrounds does not yet know if the show will be held in person or online, the facility must follow the state’s guidelines, which considers the fairgrounds a “Stage Four” entity in the governor’s reopening plan. One of the unknowns right now is whether or not the fairgrounds can host small-scale gatherings during Stages Two and Stage Three, McGuire said. Right now, the facility is entirely on lock down. That may change as the reopening plan progresses.
For the students who participate in the show, there is a lot of time and money invested in their animals, McGuire said. Many of the students who sell their animals at the auction then use the money they earn towards their education.
“As for the sale, we will leave no stone unturned,” McGuire said. “No matter what we do, we’re going to be safe, make it fun, and most importantly reward these kids. That’s what it’s all about.”
There are sponsorship forms available on the fairgrounds website, tricountyfair.com. Anyone who would like to purchase all or part of an animal, or just make a donation, can contact the fairgrounds for more information at (760) 873-3588.