California reopened in June and many places and venues are greenlighting events. However, it was just a little too late to organize for the livestock auction at the Santa Barbara County Fair.
The auction is taking place at the Santa Maria Fairpark Thursday and Friday.
Showmen will upload videos and post stats on their animals instead of showing them in front of an audience.
Then, buyers click on the listing and bid. For many of the young showmen, competing virtually was difficult to navigate.
One showmen, Aubrey Luis with the Grange, said, “I wouldn't say it was the same feeling as being in the actual show ring, but at least it had something to show for all the hard work that has gone into it.”
This is the second year the livestock auction will happen virtually.
People will log into the auction to post their livestock, as well as to bid and buy.
Emily Ward, a breeder and competitor with the Nipomo Future Farmers of America, said, “The virtual auction, it's a little, brings nerves to me because you don't know if your buyers are going to find your spot, your lot in the sale or if they're going to be able to bid or know how to bid in the online auction.”
In a normal year, around 2,000 animals are up for auction. This year, the Santa Maria Fairpark says they are expecting 200.
Rebecca Barks, a marketing and public relations representative for the Santa Maria Fairpark, said, “It's definitely not ideal. It's not what we want, it's not what the kids want. We want our fairpark to be lively and we want people here and we miss them.”
Some of the youth involved in the auction have participated since they were in elementary school.
“Showing heifers you would walk through that gate [over there]. He would come in, you'd go in a circle you'd make sure your animal's head in is up in the air," Luis said while describing the process in the physical ring.
The competitor would walk and pose the animal and the judge would come and look at them up close.
“Going around until he chooses which animal is going to win and he comes up and he shakes your hand and that is when you know that you've won and it's just the most… I couldn't even explain that what kind of feeling it is but it is just so much fun," Luis said.
Many of the youth organizations like 4H and FFA had difficulty coordinating during the pandemic and many people stopped participating.
If livestock isn’t sold at the fair, the seller has the option to go to resale to places like grocery stores, but the selling price isn’t the same.