Jessica Cejnar / Tuesday, July 21 @ 12:39 p.m. / Community

'We've Had Some Amazing Buyers'; Community Rallies Around Young Farmers Selling Animal Projects


Participants in the Lake Earl Grange prepare to bring their pigs in front of judges at a previous fair. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Floyd.

The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the annual junior livestock auction, but the Del Norte County Fairgrounds is still serving as a venue for local youngsters to sell their pigs, goats, sheep and other animal projects this year.

Buyers can take a gander at dnfair.org where a slideshow provides information and a photo of the kids participating in Del Norte 4H clubs, the Lake Earl Grange and Future Farmers of America. The fairgrounds’ website also features a carousel of pending sales. Since an auction isn’t in the cards due to the pandemic, the animals are being sold by the head, Fairgrounds CEO Kimberly Floyd told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Monday.

“We have one beef left — that one’s $4,000,” Floyd said, adding there were a total of 84 animal projects in this year’s sale. “And swine, the minimum (price) is $1,100. Lambs are $800; goats are $750; laying hens are $350; and, it’s on the website, rabbits and turkeys are $250. That’s a minimum.”

In May, the 41st District Agricultural Association — better known as the Del Norte County Fair Board — cancelled the 2020 fair due to social distancing concerns because of COVID-19. The event had been scheduled for Aug. 6-9 this year, but sponsors had dried up, vendors dropped out and the company that provides the carnival was also facing challenges.

Plus, public events and gatherings in California are prohibited, according to the state’s COVID-19 information website.

In previous years, scores of Del Norte County youngsters would bring their animals to the fairgrounds to be judged the day before the event started. The judge would determine if the animal is market ready based on its weight and rate-of-gain, Floyd said. He or she would then award ribbons and determine what animals are champions and grand champions.

This year, on Aug. 8, youngsters will bring their animal before a judge to determine whether they’re market ready, Floyd said. A veterinarian will also be on hand to make sure the animal’s healthy. But kids won’t be able to show their animals, Floyd said.

“That’s just a huge bummer,” she said. “I know a lot of these kids. All of them have worked so hard on their projects and are still working…”

Those wanting to purchase an animal should complete a proxy letter with the child’s name, their name, the animal’s minimum price tag and any extra money they would like to add, Floyd said. The buyer proxy letter is available at dnfair.org and can be emailed to kfloyd@dnfair.org or brought to the fair office, she said.

In addition to the one steer that’s still for sale, there are 17 pigs, 11 or 12 lambs, two goats, five pens of three laying hens, two turkeys and three rabbits available, Floyd said. The hens, turkeys and rabbits are being sold live. The buyer will be responsible for butchering the animals themselves, she said.

For the large swine, beef, lamb and goats, Floyd said, Bussmann’s Mobile Ranch Butchering, of Bandon, will process them, though the buyer can use a different butcher or purchase the animal live.

“We’ve had some amazing buyers,” she said. “We have one that bought beef, two pigs and a lamb. We could not make this possible without the help of the community.”

Some folks are first-time buyers, Floyd said.

Meanwhile, she still has hope that the 2021 Del Norte County Fair will be bigger than ever. Floyd said the Fair Food Frenzy, a traveling vendor offering curly fries, corn dogs, funnel cake and other fair foods, over the Fourth fo July weekend was a hit.

“I know that the community will come out and support us,” she said. “I know on the animal aspect, the livestock auction was such a huge part of fair and the fair culture. I just know that next year people will come out and support these kids. People support these kids now.”


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