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Celebrating achievement

The county fair has been canceled for 2020, but 4-H, FFA will still have exhibits judged

— Daily Freeman-Journal file photo Livestock shows like this beef show from the 2018 Hamilton County Fair will be happening this summer, though the public will not be able to attend. Event though the fair was canceled this summer. live stock shows and static exhibit judging will be held for 4-H and FFA participants.

The Hamilton County 2020 Fair has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Hamilton County 4-H and FFA participants will still have a chance to showcase their hard work during judging days planned for later this month.

Officials with the 4-H program said plans are still being made for how those events will work.

“We’re kind of waiting to make a lot of the detailed decisions,” said Brynna Baumhover, Hamilton County 4-H Coordinator. “But the static exhibits, the non-livestock projects will be judged in person with a judge. But everyone will be wearing masks, there will be shields and social distancing set up, with the judging spread across several buildings.”

She added that they will spread out the judging throughout the day to allow for the social distancing.

“We’re taking every sanitary precaution possible,” she said. “But we think its really important for the judge to talk to the 4-H’er. It’s a learning experience.”

The static judging will take place on Monday, July 20 at the fairgrounds. This year, parents and others won’t be able to attend the static judging, she said.

“They will have to stay in the cars to wait for their exhibitors,” she said. “We’re trying to limit the number of people in the building. We’ll have just one person running each building that is used.”

Baumhover said plans are still evolving for the livestock shows. Officials are waiting to see how other counties have handled those events. Hamilton County typically is typically one of the state’s later county fairs, which gives officials the chance to review what has worked and what hasn’t at other judging events.

“We look forward to learning from them,” she said.

She said the livestock shows won’t be open to the public this year and each exhibitor will have just a few people who will be allowed to attend to help them on the show day.

“For the most part, during the shows, you can stay six-feet apart, because there’s an animal between you,” she said. But the shows will be spread out through the week of July 21 to 26.

There will be no dog obedience show this year, since the project group did not meet for training sessions this spring.

“So we have one more day to spread out the livestock and animals shows. And we won’t have as many people on the grounds,” she said.

The Iowa State Fair was also canceled for 2020, but 4-H and FFA participants will still get a chance to show their animals and other exhibits. The Fair Special 2020 edition will be held over three weekends in August.

“As for non-livestock exhibits, they still haven’t decided how that will look. But those exhibits will be showcased somehow, probably virtually,” she said. Exhibitors will likely submit photos and project write-ups.

“They are still trying to figure that out, too,” she said.

With the arrival of COVID-19 earlier this year, some 4-H clubs chose to not meet, while others held virtual meetings. Still others gathered in large outdoor settings to lessen the possibility of spreading the virus. The pandemic also put the county fair and the state fair in jeopardy. Both of which were canceled last month.

Most of the clubs really haven’t had much to do since there will be no fair parade this year and no club booths on display, according to Baumhover.

She said she’s happy that the judging and exhibits could continue this year, even if in an unusual format.

“I think that the kids all over have had a lot of experiences taken away from them this spring,” Baumhover said. “But we’ve had enough to time to really figure out the safest way to hold these shows and judgings for them.

“And I think by next year, everyone will be itching to have a real, full-fledged fair,” she said.

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