Garfield County Fair contestants adapt to virtual fair
4-Hers adjust following cancellation of in-person fair events
Typically this time of year 4-H and FFA members are busy in the fairgrounds wash racks and the fitting chutes with their animals. The humming of the blowers and the chatter of the showmen fill the fairgrounds as they make sure their animal coats are spotless and brushed to perfection.
For 15-year-old Samantha Scott of Parachute and the rest of the participants in the 2020 Garfield County, things all changed less than two months ago when all in-person events were canceled.
Scott is in her eighth year of 4-H and has shown beef cattle every year and lambs the last two years.
“It was all normal until they announced there wasn’t going to be a fair. You look forward to fair all year, and it just kind of sucks,” Scott said. “I was really bummed out about it. I was really excited to go to the fair, so I was just sad we didn’t know how this was going to work. I just like being in the show ring, seeing everybody.”
Samantha’s mother Heather Scott said by the time the fair’s fate was sealed the family was already invested in their animals.
“It’s a little bit frustrating but really our day to day and how we fed, nothing has really changed for us,” Heather Scott said. “It’s just kind of the fair week, they look forward to it because they get to go see all their friends and the community.”
Instead of spending last weekend loading up the tack box and prepping for this week’s fair, with help from her mother, Scott, like many other 4-Hers in Garfield County, spent her time shooting photos and filming a 60-second clip walking their animals around and setting them up like they do in the show ring.
“It’s been kind of stressful, all of the online stuff being different, you don’t know how the sale is going to go,” Scott said. “Just because of how the [coronavirus] has affected everybody and the companies, you don’t know how that is going to go.”
The videos were uploaded Monday for the judging and the livestock sale portion, which begins today at noon and closes noon Friday.
HELPING OUT FELLOW 4-HERS
Following the cancellation of in-person events, Brooke Barbata, vice president of the Livestock Marketing Committee and a 4-H leader, gave her children the option of participating in the virtual show and sale or seeking out prospective buyers directly.
“Their choice was not to go to the community, because we didn’t have to. They wanted the other kids that needed it. There’s a lot of kids that have animals on someone else’s property to do the fair,” Brooke Barbata said. “A good thing for us is that we have room for the animals to go. They decided this year they were going to opt out of the sale and let all the other kids that really need to sell their animals.”
With her decision 13-year-old Hannah Barbata decided to spend the last two months just playing with and getting to know her animals a little more, not stressing over training them for an event that just wasn’t in the cards this year.
“They are really hard to train. In market class it has to be a certain stance. Goats have a pretty hard time with that stance. You have to work with them every morning and night,” she said. “I’m the junior leader for cake decorating, so I’ve been mostly helping kids with the cake decorating.”
Besides showing goats, Hannah Barbata is also involved in leadership, canning, dog showing and the muzzleloader competition. She had planned on doing the breeder chicken and breeder rabbit categories, but decided against it.
A few events including the dog show and the muzzleloader completion went ahead this year as scheduled because they were small enough that social distancing could be maintained — Barbata competed in both events.
With fair week underway Barbata is a little upset but mostly sad because fair is her favorite time of the year.
“The hardest part is that I don’t get to see my friends and we don’t get to go up against each other and have fun,” Barbata said. “I love seeing the really little kids with smiles on their face when they see the animals we bring.”
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