ROCK SPRINGS — If 4-H and Future Farmers of America fair participants can’t show their projects or animals at a regular Sweetwater County Fair, they may be able to participate in a virtual fair and auction.
During a Sweetwater County Fair Board meeting Tuesday evening, the board discussed the possibility of hosting a smaller version of the fair for 4-H and Future Farmers of America participants to show their projects, animals and have their animals auctioned off.
“Right now we’re not sure how that’s going to come about,” Fair Board Chairman Robert Spicer said. “We’re hoping to have the auction like we normally do. The kids will bring their animals into the ring and we’ll have a regular auction.”
However, no one knows what kind of COVID-19 Coronavirus restrictions may or may not be in place at the end of July early August. With this in mind, the fair board started to look at other alternatives.
Kandi Pendleton, Sweetwater County Events Complex marketing and events coordinator, said the fair is scheduled to take place July 26-Aug. 1. Between Governor Mark Gordon’s and the University of Wyoming Extension Office’s COVID-19 restrictions, which is where the 4-H program is overseen by, they may need to have a virtual fair.
Pendleton said this would mean the 4-H and FFA participants would take photos of their entries and then submit them for awards.
Fair Board Vice Chairman, Rob Zotti said the board had a discussion on what to do moving forward with the fair, since it’s not feasible for the fair to host Wyoming’s Big Show like it normally has in the past. So the focus turned to the 4-H and FFA participants.
“We still want to be able to give them their day to present their work and hopefully hold an auction for the stock they raised,” Zotti said.
“We’re also looking at if this has to become a virtual auction,” Spicer said. “It’s not fair to the kids to have them go out and raise animals, raise their stuff, and at the end of the deal have no way to get rid of them.”
“So we’re looking into the virtual option idea, if we get down and we’re not back to being normal after COVID,” Spicer said.
Spicer said this is a way to let 4-H and FFA participants know they can raise their animals for the fair this summer because there will be an auction at the end. Whether that’s a regular or virtual auction, only time will tell.
“It takes a whole summer to raise an animal,” Spicer said. “We want them to know we are committed.”
Zotti said that’s really what the fair is about is the 4-H and FFA kids and what they do.
“So if we can’t hold a fair, we want to do everything we can to give the kids something,” Zotti said.
Pendleton said other communities have hosted online fairs and auctions and they have been successful, so she is confident they will be able to do this if they need to.
Spicer said so far 36 events have been canceled for 152 days, which is a loss of $1.1 million to the Sweetwater County Events Complex, Pendleton said.
“The trickle-down effect on that is going to be an excess of $5 million to the economy of Sweetwater County,” Spicer said.
He said when people come in for events, they stay in hotels, shop at local stores and eat in local restaurants.
“The whole effect this COVID is going to have on the county is going to be disastrous,” Spicer said.
Spicer said what residents don’t understand is the amount of planning that goes into big events. He said if contracts aren’t canceled by a certain time, then they have to pay them. This is why a lot of events are being canceled already.
Zotti said the amount of events being canceled is hard to look at from RV groups and home and garden shows, to stock car and horse racing events.
“We’re doing the best we can to deal with what we have,” Zotti said.
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