As fairs cancel and livestock auctions go online: what will happen locally?
By Debra Moore
As of now the Plumas Sierra County Fair is still planned for Aug. 12-16, but 20 other fairs across the state, including the California State Fair, already have canceled due to issues surrounding coronavirus and social distancing.
Fair manager John Steffanic has been optimistic that the fair will be held in some fashion, even if it’s just “people showing their jams and jellies,” but a final decision won’t be made for a while.
One of the highlights of the fair is the annual Plumas-Sierra Junior Livestock Auction held on the final morning of the five-day event. Youth who participate in 4-H and Future Farmers of America have been raising their livestock and preparing for the auction, with the money earned often earmarked for their college funds. Last year buyers spent $218,972 on 126 animals, which didn’t include price bumps donated during the sale.
Jane Roberti, a Sierra Valley rancher and auction supporter, hopes that there will be both a fair and auction this year. “But we are developing a contingency plan if we can’t,” she said during an interview last week.
Roberti said many people have called asking about the auction. “I have been so impressed with everyone’s concern for the 4-H and FFA youth,” she said. In addition to the Plumas-Sierra livestock auction, local youth often participate in both the California State Fair and the Nevada Junior Livestock event, both of which have been canceled and disappointed participants.
Roberti checks the Western Fairs Association website regularly and said that it changes almost daily as fairs continue to be canceled throughout the West as their dates get closer and social distancing measures remain in place.
The Silver Dollar Fair in Chico, scheduled for May 21-25, is on the list of cancellations. The Junior Livestock Auction is still scheduled to take place, but this year it will be moved online, using BidCal, an online auction company based in Chico.
Tehama County also canceled its fair, but is proceeding with plans to hold a virtual livestock auction that would take place over two days, May 16-17. Entries would be submitted online with 60- to 90-second videos to be uploaded to YouTube. The videos would be used both in judging the animals and placing them into weight categories.
Another auction going online is the San Joaquin AgFest Junior Livestock Show and Auction, after it was announced that the San Joaquin County Fair, scheduled to begin its four-day run June 18, had also been canceled.