Fair: Different way of doing things for 4-H and FFA

Katelynn Peterson competes in the pole bending lead-line competition during last year’s Junior Fair donkey show. With the exception of equine and swine projects, all animals at this year’s fair will be moved on and off the grounds the same day they are shown. Traditionally, animals stay on the grounds for the entirety of fair week.

(Posted July 9, 2020)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

This year’s Madison County Junior Fair comes with changes in operations, including the amount of time livestock projects stay on the grounds.

Normally, 4-H and FFA exhibitors move their animals onto the fairgrounds on Saturday and stay for the week. This time, most species will be moved in and out the same day they are shown. One exception is swine which, due to the larger number of entries requires two show days. Also, many equine exhibitors will be on site for multiple days due to the number of classes for the species.

The decision to move most species in and out the same day was based on state COVID-19 restrictions in place in late May when the Madison County senior fair board decided to go with a junior fair-only format. Since then, the state has expanded the time animals can be on the grounds to 48 hours.

“To go back and redo all the plans would be too much and too confusing. So, we stayed with the same-day plan,” said Darrell Champer, senior fair board president.

With this set-up, fair organizers made arrangements for a meat packer to pick up market animals at the end of each show day.

“We were very fortunate that the packer we have been working with the last few years was able to work with us on this,” said Deetra Huntington, Junior Fair coordinator.

To adhere to social distancing guidelines, animal pens will be set up in a checkerboard pattern, leaving empty spaces between animals grouped by the families who own them. Additionally, class sizes for shows will be limited to 10 exhibitors or less.

“Even though COVID-19 has meant changes, we still wanted all youths to have the opportunity to exhibit their projects,” Huntington said.

Other changes this year include a freeze on the Junior Fair royalty program. The youths who won king, queen, and other titles last year will retain those titles this year. Normally, fair royalty spend the year after they are crowned traveling to different fairs and festivals as representatives of the Madison County Fair. Because some fairs and festivals have been cancelled and the fate of others is uncertain, the senior fair board opted for the freeze.

Additionally, there is no show-and-tell event for Cloverbuds (exhibitors ages 5 to 9).

New this year is a photo booth that will be set up outside the Junior Fair office. Throughout fair week, exhibitors can pose with or without their projects. The photos will be uploaded to social media. The exhibitors whose photos get the most likes will win $100 gift cards to Rural King.

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