Fair 2021: New hospitality lounge for livestock buyers

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Luke Furbee of London watches as buyers at the 2019 Junior Fair livestock sale place bids on his lamb. The fair returns to an in-person sale this year after going virtual for 2020. New this year is a buyer’s hospitality lounge and live stream of the sale on YouTube.

(Posted July 7, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison County’s Junior Fair Livestock Sale Committee continually looks for ways to make the sale experience better for buyers and exhibitors.

To that end, they are introducing a buyers’ hospitality lounge this year. Anyone who signs up to bid on livestock projects can spend time in the air-conditioned Coughlin Community Center. There, they can enjoy free refreshments while keeping tabs on the sale’s progression via a live stream broadcast on multiple television screens.

“It’s a way for them to step away for a break and still be able to keep track of the sale order. This way, they don’t have to sit in the sale arena for hours, worried they’re going to miss something,” said Kelly Sifrit, sale committee treasurer.

The committee took its cue from other fairs and livestock shows that provide hospitality lounges.

“They’ve been really well received by the buyers,” Sifrit said. “We’ve been trying to grow our hospitality for our buyers because it’s a long day. We wanted to step it up and make it even bigger this year. Keeping them there to bid is big to us and the kids, plus they are helping the kids, so we wanted to do something really nice for them.”

This year’s sale starts at 9 a.m. July 17 and lasts all day and into the evening. The sale order is as follows: goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, market beef, dairy cheese trays, and swine. The grand champions, reserve champions, and premier exhibitors will be the first up for bid at the start of their respective species categories. At 1 p.m., the spotlight shines on the grand showman of showmen, followed by the alpaca and horse showmen, before returning to the sale order.

All of this will be streamed live via the sales committee’s YouTube channel, which means it will be viewable not only to the bidders in the hospitality lounge but to anyone anywhere who tunes in.

“We will stream the entire sale from about an hour before it starts to the end. The pre-show will include information about upcoming events at the fairgrounds and highlights from fair week, including pictures and videos,” Sifrit said.

The committee also has created a way to provide extra recognition for the top exhibitors. Grand and reserve champion animals will be housed in the Franklin Barn on sale day to give buyers and all other fair visitors a chance to see the top animals all in one place. Additionally, the exhibitors will take these animals to the sale arena for a live walk-through during the sale, something that hasn’t been done in years.

“We wanted to really showcase those kids in a different way. We felt it would be another celebration of their good work. It’s a way to kick off each species category with flair,” Sifrit said.

Only the exhibitors with grand and reserve champion titles will do the live walk-throughs. All other exhibitors will stand on the auction block without their animals, as has been the case for several years.

Sifirt said the committee is hoping for a bigger sale this year. With COVID-19 came economic stress and lower livestock project numbers in 2020. Even so, exhibitors and buyers adapted to the differences, including a sale that was conducted strictly online.

“Everybody made the best of it they could,” Sifrit said. “For the given year and everything that was thrown at them, it was still a good experience. We still had a lot of kids show.”

Anyone interested in signing up to bid on animals can call Kelly Sifrit at (614) 778-9318, send questions to madisoncountysalescommittee@gmail.com, or come out on sale day. Each bidder must present a photo ID.

The Junior Fair Livestock Sale takes place in the Eby Arena.

The 2021 Madison County Fair runs July 10-17. For a full schedule of events, visit Madison County Fair.

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