It may not have been what fans have been used to seeing, but area youth still got the chance to showcase their work through a series of livestock expos at the Dallas County Fairgrounds.
The 2020 Dallas County Fair was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns, prompting the fair board and Dallas County to get creative on how to showcase that work.
“For us, the learning that we’ve been doing has been very important so we have had some groups go with online meetings instead of face-to-face,” began Ann Torbert, Regional Extension Director. “Also we really had to think through in cooperation with Dallas County Public Health. We met with them and worked through what would be comfortable with them in putting on these shows. We are being as safe as we can to hold these events.”
The Dallas County Expo 2020 was created as a way to still show off what 4-H and FFA have been working on this year.
“Kids and their immediate families are really excited,” Torbert said of the expo. “It’s important now that we keep folks safe and healthy in a scaled-back event.”
Static exhibits were dropped off by area 4-H members and judging was done on Monday, July 6. Instead of in-person judging, 4-Hers will receive written comments from the judges.
The scaled-back livestock shows started on Wednesday, July 8 with the horse, cat and pet shows. The sheep, goat and dog shows were held on Thursday while the swine and rabbit shows were held on Friday.
A very limited audience has been in place for each livestock show in order to follow social distancing guidelines. Only members, parents and two guests per family are encouraged to attend the live events.
While this year’s sheep and goat show looked different, first-time participant Nash Droppert was happy to be able to show off his animal.
“It felt like it was really exciting,” said Droppert, with the Grimes Go-Getters. “It’s not what I thought it would be because the fair is different overall.”
Droppert ended up earning Grand Champion status for his market ewe. Droppert was one of several goat and sheep show newcomers who achieved success. Trayton Minnehan of the Perry Pathfinders 4-H group was also taking on the sheep show for the first time at the fair and earned Reserve Grand Champion in his class with sheep.
“I am very happy that I got to win,” began Minnehan. “I was a little worried that my sheep were overweight.”
Minnehan also said that with COVID-19, an added challenge of connecting with their veterinarian was on the table.
“COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge for me this year,” continued Minnehan.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, it has impacted exhibitors differently, including Bailey Christensen, who earned Reserve Grand Champion for her ewe.
“Not much has changed from COVID-19,” began Christensen. “I still work with my animals every day and I go to my cattle at my friends house. The only thing that has changed for me with COVID-19 is that I’ve had more time to work with my animals.”
Regardless of the level that an individual has been impacted, the shared feeling across all presenters is the lack of normalcy that COVID-19 has once again presented.
“What is most different is that you don’t get to have all your friends and family here,” said Dallas County Aggies 4-H member Mara Redenius.
The livestock shows continue with the Clover Kids bottle calf, goat, lamb and poultry shows on Sunday, July 11. The expo wraps up with the beef show on Sunday, July 12.