Joan Kramer planned to show 16-month-old steer Winston at this year’s fair until it and the live animal auction were canceled amid COVID-19 concerns.
“I was disappointed, but it’s a bit of a break, because you’re working with those animals all year,” Kramer said, adding that she has already sold her steer.
Northeast Florida Fair Association Livestock Secretary Wanda Simmons said fair officials had discussed having a virtual auction, but decided that the youth exhibitors would possibly fare better if they sold the animals outright. An informational meeting about how to approach buyers was held Saturday.
“They’re going to be provided with a list of buyers from last year,” Simmons said.
This places more of the sales effort on the kids this year than previously, but it is another step in the process of managing livestock.
“A lot of the kids already know who will buy their animals,” Simmons said. Those who have a tougher time finding a buyer will receive assistance from fair employees.
This year, exhibitors will deliver their livestock to the fairgrounds Oct. 10 so that the animals may be transported for processing.
If a person wishes to help an exhibitor without purchasing the entire animal, monetary donations of any amount are accepted, according to Simmons.
“We, as a fair board, needed to do something for these market kids because their projects were started months ago,” she said, adding that due to the expense of raising, feeding and caring for livestock, the fair board was prepared to help when the event was canceled.
“I think they did right that way,” Kramer said. “It would be difficult to wear masks, try to keep distance and everything else up there.”
Active in Nassau County 4-H, the 16-year-old enjoys participating in livestock shows. She will make about $3 per pound on her livestock sale. Generally, steers weigh 1,200 pounds or more. The fair board gives them a top weight allowance of 1,300 pounds.
“While the money is nice, it is not the reason I participate in the fair,” Kramer said. “I enjoy hanging out with friends and showing my animals and those are the reasons for my disappointment about the fair cancelation.”
Lily Crosby began exhibiting steer three years ago. She has a 14-month-old Angus steer named Wayne that she plans to sell. She deposits the proceeds into her college fund.
Crosby also enjoys the fair activities and attractions and “spending time with my friends,” the 11-year-old said.
Both Crosby and Kramer plan to exhibit animals as part of their 4-H projects when the fair returns in October 2021.
Sydney Weiscopf has a pig that she raised this year. She has also exhibited rabbits, chicken and goats and is active in 4-H.
“I hope that everything’s back to normal like we did at the fair in 2019,” she said.
Weiscopf plans to mail out letters to residents and business owners to find buyers for Nellie, her 1,200-pound Berkshire swine. She would like to get $3 to $5 per pound for the pig.
“I feel like I’m going to miss out on hands-on activities, but I’m still getting my money to go into my college fund,” the 13-year-old said.
NEFL Fair President Keith Wingate said the fair board would help out.
“We know these kids have put a lot of work and money into raising these animals and we don’t intend to leave the kids hanging,” he said. “We’re going to help them as best we can by facilitating the sale.”
Those who wish to purchase a project animal may call 879-4682.