Beaverhead County Fair a success through compromise

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

In many ways, the fair was as normal as any year. J.P. Plutt photo

Beaverhead County Fair

Fair memories, Inserted in this paper.

There was one unwavering thought that held the Beaverhead County Fair Board and Beaverhead County Extension Office together during the trying process leading up to Labor Day weekend. Give these kids the fair they deserve.

There were more meetings than normal, and concessions were common (and that would be compromises, not 4-H double cheeseburgers). In the end, the people involved in making the 2020 Beaverhead County Fair a reality were as successful as they could possibly be.

“We just wanted to make sure to get the animals sold for the kids and get them to show,” said Fair Board Chairman Pete Hansen. “Everything went off good. The sale seems to be all right. The internet is working good and we seem to be selling a few that way.”

Fair Board member David Schuett was tasked with working in the livestock building.

“My responsibility and my concerns was pretty much the livestock and thus far, it has gone very well,” said Schuett on sale day at the fair grounds. “The steer show was good, the sheep show was good, and the hog show was good. It only took a few hours each, and everybody followed the plan. So the kids came in, exhibited their animals, took them home, and as far as we know, everything went good.”

Schuett said the fair limited the classes in size to 6 or 7 per class. He said the animals were weighed the morning they were shown and then taken before the day finished to either an area feed lot or to their homes.

“The shows did not seem any different than normal,” said Schuett. “What you did notice on the fairgrounds themselves, there was no carnival, no commercial exhibits, those types of things. But as far as the livestock was concerned, we were as close as we could be to normal.”

With the livestock sale underway, Schuett noted, “I think if we’re close to our prices from last year, everybody would be ecstatic.”

Beaverhead County Extension Agent Jessica Murray said after the sale that some prices were down, some were up, but overall they were close to the prices paid in 2019. According to Murray’s figures after the billing was finalized, 37 head of beef brought an average price of $3.38 per pound, 79 hogs sold for an average of $5.07 per pound, and 21 lambs brought an average of $12.44 per pound.

“I think the fair went really well with all the obstacles we had this year,” said Murray. “The kids still got a show, so I thought it was successful.”

According to Murray, the COVID-19 protocols put in place were effective during the auction. She said 20 to 25 folks were submitting on-line bids, another 5 to 8 called in bids to the phone bank at the livestock building, and there were several proxy bidders in the building. She added that 90 buyers purchased 138 animals, with over a third using non-traditional means of buying an animal.

“People were wondering why our fair looked the way it did,” said Murray. “What they’ve got to realize is that it was public health, fair board, and county extension all working together. County by county, that varied a lot. We were really lucky to get to have what we had. Maybe it wasn’t ideal for everybody, but we have a great community that came out and supported the fair and the kids anyway.”

As Schuett evaluated the fair and the outcomes, he agreed that it was as successful as a dedicated group of agricultural people could make it.

“Our primary concern and objective was to keep the children safe and have them healthy to start school,” concluded Schuett. “All other events and issues were secondary. We lis tened to the experts and their recommendations and agreed to the livestock shows and sale in a way that allowed the kids to show and sell their animals in a safe environment. Thanks to everyone for their efforts and support.”