For 4-H and FFA members, Washington County Agricultural Fair’s EQT Junior Livestock Market Competition is a showcase for the time and hard work they’ve spent raising and caring for their prized rabbits, goats, hogs and steer.
So, members were delighted that the three-day competition, which culminated Saturday with the livestock auction, was held, even though the 222-year-old fair was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of the competition, 115 exhibitors showed about 220 animals.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to do this, especially with the steers, but with all of the livesock. We all put blood, sweat, tears, time and money into these animals,” said Trevor Maxwell, 17, a McGuffey High School student who is a member of 4-H and FFA.
His steer, Bonzo, earned Reserve Division 1 champion.
Wayne Hunnell, a director and secretary of Washington County Fair Board, said after the board decided to cancel the annual fair because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it still wanted to hold the livestock show.
“We wanted to find some way to do the junior livestock sale to help the kids out. A number of the kids have had these animals, like the steers, for a year now,” said Hunnell. “The decision really was driven by what we saw as a need and the value for the community and the kids.”
The board implemented a COVID-19 plan, and set up the barns and ring to encourage social distancing.
Hunnell said the entries were lower this year than in past years, except for steer. This year, 80 hogs were entered into the livestock competition, a little more than half of the number of hogs who usually are entered.
This year was the first year Maxwell, who has been a 4-H member for more than eight years, entered a steer. In the past, he has shown other animals, including rabbits and goats.
“First, it was awesome that (the fair board) pulled through and did the show. This was a lot of fun,” said Maxwell. “For most of us, this is like our vacation. We spend all of our money on this. We use our savings on this. This is what we look forward to every year. We walk into that ring for that five minutes, and it’s a victory, no matter what place you get.”