Holmes County Fair finalizes details in moving to a junior fair only

Holmes County Fair finalizes details in moving to a junior fair only

It has taken a lot of work from the Holmes County Senior Fair Board, which has experienced more twists and turns than a giant roller coaster presents, but one week before the Holmes County Fair, the board was finally able to hash out a finalized game plan for the Aug. 10-15 fair at Harvest Ridge west of Millersburg.

The fair will only have a junior fair this year, meaning the rides, grandstand entertainment, area corporate booths on the runway, Stage on the Green events, and all of the photography, art and exhibition shows will be absent.

What the county was able to do was keep the junior fair portion of the week operating as close to normal as possible with the 4-Hers who bring animals to the fair able to showcase their animals, go through the showmanship portion of the fair and sell their animals as usual.

“It was a difficult and tedious process, and it took a lot of effort from many people and organizations, but we were able to put together the junior fair without many major changes,” said Kerry Taylor, board president. “We did everything we could for the kids.”

While the fair is trimmed down, it will still provide a number of aspects that are drawing cards for fairgoers.

“We wanted to preserve as much of the family atmosphere of the fair that we could,” said Dr. Eric Shaver, Holmes County Fair veterinarian. “Reducing all of the activities really kind of destroys the community aspect of the fair, so now it becomes how can we preserve the junior fair agricultural events and keep everyone safe at the same time. It’s a whole unique focus for the board.”

There will be some unique circumstances created by state regulations regarding COVID-19 that will change the auction process, but those changes will be for safety purposes and won’t change the general format of the Thursday and Friday evening livestock auctions.

“From the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s perspective, there really aren’t any big changes,” Shaver said. “We will have the standard check-in, the normal drug-use notification forms. The affidavits and previous regulations are pretty much what they have always been.”

All sales will be held in the show arena. On Thursday, Aug. 13, the auction will begin at 4:30 p.m. with market lambs, dairy goats, meat goats and market hogs. On Friday, Aug. 14, the 4:30 p.m. line-up will include beef feeders, dairy feeders, rabbits, dairy steer, beef steer, broilers, ducks and turkeys.

Shaver said after the senior fair board meeting held Thursday, July 30, the focus was on creating a safer area in the barn areas for the kids and the animals and making some adjustments in the main arena in the expo center where the auction will take place.

All participants will be required to wear masks. The board decided to remove the champions row that features all of the grand and reserve champion animals, which will clear up space to widen out the aisles between the animal pens by anywhere from 7-10 feet.

Class sizes for each category of animal also will be limited to 10 participants, which is a new process adopted for this year. In addition, the fair board is improvising the viewing and bidding area. Because there will be no merchant vendor area taking up the north half of the expo center, it will allow the board to bring in more seating for the auction and spread it out all over the center to create social distancing.

There also will be a family viewing area located next to the pen where each 4-Her will show their animal, giving family members a perfect view of each showman and their animal. That area will be standing room only, and after each show, a member of the junior fair board will wipe down and sanitize the area for the next group of family members.

The goal of preserving as much of the traditional feel of the junior fair as possible was key for the board, although there will be one big change that shouldn’t impact the process.

“The biggest change folks will notice is that we have agreed to dismiss all nonmarket livestock immediately after they are done showing,” Shaver said.

That list includes all breeding rabbits, dairy cattle, breeding poultry, breeding beef, sheep and goats.

“Anything that is nonmarket basically will be allowed to go as soon as their show is complete,” Shaver said. “That will allow us to improve social distancing by decreasing the number of people who need to be on the grounds.”

In addition, ODA has placed a 10 p.m. curfew on all fair events throughout the state, although any event that begins before that time and is not finished may wrap up as long as people are out no more than 30 minutes after the event is completed.

“We expect the auction to run beyond that time limit, but that will be fine,” Shaver said.

Another big concern for the board was the camping situation. Many families utilize the campgrounds and stay for the entire week so they can care for the animals with greater ease. Taylor said without that ability the landscape of the fair would have changed immensely. However, the camping was deemed fine by the state and will go on with an emphasis on social distancing in place.

The lower camping grounds will be preserved completely while the upper fairgrounds where the fair board camps will be realigned this year to create greater spacing.

“That was paramount to what we needed to have happen in order to maintain the junior fair as it normally is,” Taylor said. “The important thing is the way the community came through for our 4-H kids. It was very encouraging the way everyone came together to make that happen.”

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