By Terri Lynn Oldham House
The real heart and soul of the Archuleta County Fair is the junior livestock show, where youth active in 4-H showcase their months of work caring for and feeding animals.
This year will be no different. With the cancellation of the fair as we know it, the Archuleta County 4-H Fair will still go on, albeit in a rather unique and innovative manner.
Throughout this time of uncertainty due to COVID-19, our livestock project kids continue to work hard on their projects, in the hopes of being able to provide a buyer with quality raised meat.
For many of these young exhibitors, the money they make from the livestock auction helps pay for a college education.
The Archuleta County Livestock Committee decided to hold virtual livestock shows and a virtual auction this year. Its goal is to ensure the safety of kids, buyers and volunteers.
You will find these virtual events online at archuletacountyfair.com.
The general public is not allowed to attend the 4-H shows, due to the pandemic, but the shows are being brought to you via livestream links on the website.
There will be a swine show, horse show, gymkhana, poultry show, turkey show, lamb show, goat show, steer show and even a dog show, with a complete schedule available online. If you happen to miss a show you wanted to attend, there will be links to the recorded shows on the site.
4-H Coordinator Becky Jacobson shared in the past that one of her favorite moments of the Archuleta County Fair is watching high school senior 4-H participants assisting the first-year 4-H members, who are as young as 8 years old, during the master showman contest.
“It is the culmination of all the years they have put into 4-H and they are giving back,” she explained while attempting to hold back her tears. “They are being patient, careful and watching out for the safety of the younger participants.”
The learned experience of the older members is shared with those who are following in their footsteps. Considering that some of those youngsters are handling steers that average some 1,300 pounds, safety is of utmost importance.
There might be no other event during the year in the county that has as much tradition attached to it as the annual livestock auction. This year’s virtual livestock auction will be held Saturday, Aug. 1, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can view and participate in the event at archuletacountyfair.com.
Buyers and add-on buyers must preregister. There is a link on the site which will take you to the registration page.
Before the auction, you will receive a password to allow you to login to the event at 6 p.m. where you will see all of the animals that are for sale. You will also be able to view the current bid for each animal. You will be notified via email if you get outbid so that you can increase your bid.
Short videos and pictures of the 4-H’er and their animal will also be available for bidders to view.
As always at the livestock auction, you will be able to do add-ons. You can do this during the virtual auction or you are welcome to drop off your add-ons to the Extension Office before or after the auction. For more information about add-ons please call Jacobson or Terry Schaaf at 264-5931, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with questions or to get help registering for the auction.
This great slice of Archuleta County life and heritage known as the fair doesn’t come off successfully without the support of livestock buyers. Auction organizers and 4-H youth are hoping for a repeat of last year’s auction success.
To get an idea of how the auction will be held, there is even an auction tutorial on the website that is available for viewing now. We urge you to go ahead and preregister as a buyer to ensure a seamless process on auction day.
For those of us who love the tradition of attending the 4-H Chuckwagon Dinner before Saturday night’s livestock auction, you may not be able to enjoy the meal, but you can still support the 4-H program as a whole by making a donation at www.archuletacountyfair.com, where you can click on the green 4-H four-leaf clover.
Before COVID-19, you would find more than 140 volunteers selling tickets, doing the setup, decorating, serving and cleaning up for this 4-H fundraiser. Jacobson estimated that 900-plus people are typically fed and entertained over two hours at the dinner.
The 4-H organization appreciates any donation you can make to help replace this major event.
There are approximately 140 youth, ages 5 to 18, who participate in Archuleta County’s 4-H program. 4-H has been one of the leading youth organizations in the nation for more than 100 years. The program helps youth enhance their communities and their lives.
The sign-up for the program is in October, and clubs meet monthly or sometimes weekly. There are also 4-H leadership camps and opportunities for youth to take on leadership roles such as local club or state offices.
These 4-H kids even participate in community service projects such as walking dogs at the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs, cleaning up trash along area roads and serving up lunches for Loaves and Fishes. During Domestic Violence Awareness month, they assist the Rise Above Violence organization with projects.
You don’t have to have a livestock project to participate in 4-H. Sewing, photography, fishing, home design, cat and dog projects, horses, alpacas, rocketry, woodworking, cake decorating, cooking, beekeeping, wildlife, veterinary science and scrapbooking are all ways our youth can become involved in 4-H.
Local 4-H volunteer leaders teach these youngsters and inspire them to succeed and leave an impact on our community.
Next week is the time for Archuleta County 4-H members to shine. We encourage you to show up virtually and support the hard work and dedication of these fine young men and women.
Even as a virtual event, the fair gives us all a chance to celebrate ourselves, our community and the things that make Archuleta County great.
We’ll “see” you at the Archuleta County 4-H Fair.