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Pandemic restrictions in place for local fairs

Hog shows and sales are still planned to continue this week at the Waterford Fair with junior exhibitors showing off the work they’ve put into their animals since April and May. (File Photo)

The Waterford Fair kicks off Thursday with hogs arriving at the community fairgrounds that evening.

“Then the show is starting at 8 a.m. Friday and that usually goes throughout the day,” said Bruce Zimmer, 4-H and youth development extension educator with the Ohio State University. “We’re separating the kids out for weigh-ins and we’re asking that only one exhibitor and one parent help with the move-in and weighs and anything going on in the barn to get ready for the show to help keep the distancing measures.”

Distancing that’s necessary by state health order, to allow for junior fair projects like the hog shows and sales to still continue, despite the disruption that coronavirus has caused on many lives this year.

Zimmer said Monday that in the past, showmanship was a required event of all exhibitors, but this year it’s going to be optional.

“And then in the specific classes we’re keeping those groups down to below 10,” he said.

Effective July 31, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a health order limiting what’s allowed at county fairs after outbreaks and lack of mask compliance elsewhere in Ohio caused concern for further spread of the novel virus.

That order restricts county fairs to only allow participation by individuals in 4-H, FFA or other youth organizations to allow for junior livestock shows and skillathons to still be offered for students.

According to the health order, food vendors are permitted during the junior fair activities, but licensed concessions including midway and carnival games are not permitted.

And regardless of the activity, a 10 p.m. curfew is established for all attendees, participants and vendors at county fairs.

“And we’re asking that during the showing that participants only have their immediate family in the barn, it’s going to be close quarters,” said Zimmer. “We’re trying to limit as much exposure and additional traffic as we can for this… And there will be a mask requirement of all participants and spectators for the show.”

Attendance and support though includes more than just the shows Friday.

“The Washington County Health Department is encouraging everyone to support the youth, the junior fair hog exhibitors by trying to bid on those students’ hogs during that auction,” said Roger Coffman, administrator for the county health department on Monday. “We want to encourage as much participation as possible, it’s really important right now when the students have really gotten the raw end of the deal on this virus.”

So participation is encouraged for the hog sale on Friday, with returning bidders encouraged to complete their registration or sealed bid packets prior to the evening sale with sealed packets to be returned to the fair board office by noon.

Then, weather-permitting, the sale will be held outdoors, and bidders will be asked to limit their representation in-person to one or two people.

“We’re trying to help our buyers with check-in by sending them letters with their bid numbers,” said Zimmer. “That way if there’s new bidders this year, they’re the only ones that may need to check in and receive a bid number in person on Saturday.”

The fair is expecting 182 hogs to weigh in on Thursday, and even if one wants to support the fair but has limited funds to contribute, there’s a way to still support the students through working with the fair board to commit funds toward the final sale of particular exhibitors.

“That way if someone has a smaller budget or wants to share the support among a few this is a way to do that,” said Zimmer.

“What we’re looking at is (for attendees) to please cooperate with the Waterford community fair board when they’re there so those attending try as much as possible to do the six-foot distancing,” Coffman said. “And face mask usage, because nobody wants there to be a spread of COVID-19 during this and have someone else get sick. They’ll have hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations, too. Those are the four ways we have to try to prevent this virus spreading further into the community and into our schools.”

The Washington County Fair is also still planned to take place over Labor Day weekend while the Barlow Independent fair is still on track for the end of September.

Washington County Fair Board President Kurt Bohlen said Monday that he is still awaiting a response from Anne Goon, health commissioner for the Marietta-Belpre Health Department, on modified health plans for the Junior Fair exhibitors to still show their animal projects.

No grandstand events, home arts displays, senior fair events or vendors are planned for the opening weekend of September at this time.

A modified schedule for the junior fair shows and sale is expected to be released following the acceptance of the modified health plan.

Coffman said the Barlow Fair health plan is expected to be submitted to the county health department this week.

The Barlow fair board released last week a general outline of what’s coming for that event with free admission the whole weekend, no commercial vendors nor tractor pulls or rides, no parade, but still the livestock action beginning at 5 p.m. on Sept. 26. A modified schedule is to be released after further consultation with the Washington County Health Department.

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About the Waterford Hog Sale:

1. If you attend the sale, there will be a New Buyer’s Registration Table. At this table you will register as a new buyer and pick up your bid number.

2. For 2020 there will not be a buyer’s reception, however, water will be available during the sale.

3. No buyer pass is needed for the Waterford Community Fair. Buyers are asked to limit attendance to one or two from each business.

4. The Waterford Fair Hog Sale will take place Saturday 4:30 PM at the Waterford Fairgrounds on the pulling track weather permitting. If it rains, the sale will be inside the barn. The hogs will not be taken to the auction area. Only the member will enter the ring to sell their animal.

5. Buyers are welcome to bring their own chair, however, chairs will be provided.

6. To reduce interaction exhibitors are not encouraged to give buyer gifts or give buyers a photo of them with their animal. Rather, sellers are encouraged to mail a thank you card or deliver their picture to your place of business.

7. All buyers must come prepared to settle their purchases. You must either have a purchase order number or pay for the livestock on site. All accounts not paid in 30 days will be charged a 3-percent per month service charge. All arrangements must be made before leaving the sale!

8. Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Market Hogs must go to slaughter at a local processor (Pine Ridge) as required by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

9. Paying for processing (slaughtering, cutting, and wrapping) of livestock is the buyer’s responsibility. Local processors include Pine Ridge Meat Processing and Hickory Hills Meat Processing.

10. There will be a packer bid if you will re-sell your purchase to the packer. This amount will be deducted from your invoice during checkout.

11. If you are not able to attend the auction but still wish to support the kids, you can complete the enclosed Sealed Bid Sheet and return prior to the sale. There are instructions on the form where it should be submitted. See this article online to download the sealed bid sheet or contact the Ohio State University Extension Office.

Source: Bruce Zimmer.

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