Fair week returns with changes

By 
Nacoma Jefferson
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Fair week returns with changes
Photo by Nacoma Jefferson
Volunteers manage the check-in station at the Big Horn County Youth and Open Fair. Anyone entering the Big Horn County Fairground must be wearing a mask and must answer a short health questionnaire. They will then have their temperature checked by a volunteer with a contactless thermometer. Anyone experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms with a temperature over 100 degrees will not be permitted to enter the fairgrounds.

The Big Horn County Youth and Open Fair Market Animal Sale will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 1 at the Dennis Wacker Memorial Pavilion at the Big Horn County Fairgrounds. Livestock buyers can register for the sale by calling the MSU Extension Office at (406) 665-9770. If there is no answer leave a message, the voicemail is checked regularly.

Buyers have the option to use a proxy buyer if are not comfortable attending the sale in person. To sign up for a proxy buyer call the MSU Extension office.


The Big Horn County Youth and Open Fair is closed to the public.
 
Thursday, July 30
7 to 9:30 a.m. Market Beef and Futurity weigh-in (Behind the swine barn)
10:30 a.m. Market Beef shows (Pavilion)
Breeding Beef and Beef Futurity (Begins 1.5 hours after end of Market Beef shows)
 
Friday, July 31
7 to 9 a.m. Swine weigh-in (Behind the swine barn)
10:30 a.m. Swine shows (Pavilion)
 
Saturday, August 1
10 a.m. Market Animal Sale (Rodeo Arena)
1 p.m. Ultrasound (Behind the swine barn)

The Big Horn County Youth and Open Fair returned over the weekend with less fanfare than usual.

Holly Miner, Montana State University Extension, Family Consumer Science and 4-H agent, said the fair had some major changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 mitigation plan had to be approved by the Big Horn County Board of Health first once that happened the fair board worked closely with the Big Horn County Commissioners and the Big Horn County Health Department, Miner said.

One of the biggest changes this is year is the fair is not open to the public and social distancing and mask guidelines have been implemented. There is no concession stand or lunch special at the event this year either, she said.

There is a huge list of tasks to be completed each year as fair week approaches, so the fair board and volunteers are assigned tasks that will be their sole job throughout the fair, Miner said.

For example, one person opens the gate to the arena for the kids to enter and one person is at the exit gate so there is only one-way traffic in and out of the arena. Each youth is responsible for feeding their own animals in their pen without touching other pens or gates. Periodically someone comes through to sanitize everything.

Most importantly, everyone that comes to the fairgrounds will have their temperature taken and they are required to answer a health questionnaire, Miner said.

Due to the number of swine entered in this year’s fair, every pen at the fairgrounds will be in use when they animals show up on Friday.

FFA and 4-H members will have to feed their swine at separate times to ensure social distancing, Miner said.

The Market Animal Sale will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Dennis Wacker Memorial Pavilion at the Big Horn County Fairgrounds. Livestock buys can register by calling the MSU Extension Office at (406) 665-9770.

Buyers have the option to use a proxy buyer if are not comfortable attending the sale in person. To sign up for a proxy buyer call the MSU Extension office. Proxy buying is provided every year, but fair organizers are hoping more buyers will utilize this option this year.

One of the most notable changes to this year’s fair is the campers.

Each year, 4-H and FFA members and their families line the perimeter of the fairgrounds with tents and campers.

The livestock showing order is even different this year, Miner said.

Traditionally, the schedule includes to livestock shows per day, one in the morning and one in the evening, but now the livestock are coming in one day at a time and all the animals go home except for the market animals that are sold on Saturday.

The indoor judging happened two weeks ago all the indoor project results are displayed in the window at First Interstate Bank and at the lobby in Little Horn State Bank.

Ty Neal is the advisor for the Little Big Horn FFA at Lodge Grass High School.

“So normally the fair is a combination of a celebration of a year’s worth of work,” Neal said. “The kids working with beef started their projects in October of last year and the kids working with swine started in February and March and they work with these animals every day.”

In a normal year, Neal said, his FFA livestock exhibiters would come to the fair early in the week, set up camp and see friends from all over the county, and then they would be able to showcase their animals and all the hard work to the public.

“Usually just a great time for the kids, parents, advisor and the community,” he said. “But this year one of the biggest challenges is transporting the kids and animals to and from the fair, for example, I’ll bring the beef kids on one day and take them home then the kids with swine come on the next day then go home.”

Neal’s FFA chapter has 22 pigs and four steers to transport to the fair in a timely manner this year.

“One of the biggest things the kids miss out on this year is being able to meet with some of the business owners and some of the businesses that would normally buy an animal weren’t able to this year,” Neal said.

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