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Lake County Fair underway with COVID-19 changes

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RONAN – The Lake County 4-H Fair began this weekend, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s fair looks a bit different from prior fairs. 

“For starters, we had to adjust a lot of things,” said Breton Homewood, 4-H extension educator for Montana State University. Two of the big adjustments include closing the concession stands and canceling the family-style and buyer appreciation dinners. 

After much deliberation with local health and government officials, the fair board members came to a decision to continue with the fair. It was decided that the fair could go on if social distancing guidelines and safety protocols were followed. Modifications were also made to the schedule to avoid large gatherings.  “Our number-one goal is to keep everyone safe,” said Homewood. 

The fair board canceled some of the public events and shows. Project judging will be done without interviews this year. The number of people allowed into barns will also be limited and completely closed in some instances. 

The biggest difference to the fair this year could be seen in the livestock show, according to Homewood. The show will operate under a show-and-go format. Participants usually leave animals at the fairgrounds throughout the weekend. 

On Saturday, July 19, about a dozen youth opened the fair by performing their equine showmanship skills with horses ranging from mini to full size. The fair grounds were also busy with 4-H members dropping off their exhibit projects for judging, as the deadline was that morning. Aaron Luke, a member of the Round Butte Future Stockmen, was excited to drop off his birdhouse project that took him a week to build out of supplies he found in his father’s shop. “I had built a birdhouse before,” said Luke. “It was a fun project, so I thought I would build another.”

The fairgrounds may be a little bit quieter this year, but there are still plenty of things to see and enjoy. The updated schedule includes events that continue through the weekend. On Wednesday, July 22, the dog show starts at 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The perishable open class check in starts at 3 p.m. and goes to 5 p.m. All market livestock, breeding sheep and breeding swine will arrive from 3 to 7 p.m. The poultry and rabbits will arrive between 4 to 8 p.m. The poultry judging will begin at 8 p.m. Judging will occur in the cage. The poultry showmanship is still on Friday morning in the arena barn. At 6 to 9 p.m., the open class judging will occur.

On Thursday, July 23, swine judging will be held from 8 to 11:30 a.m. with now showmanship class. Spectators will not be allowed in the barn during judging. At 12 p.m., the market beef judging will being with social distancing. The sheep judging and showmanship will be held in the outdoor arena at 2 p.m. The cat show will be in the arena barn at 4 p.m. The ice cream social will begin at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Market livestock project members are hosting this event. At 7 p.m., the market livestock sale will take place in the outdoor arena with social distancing.

On Friday, July 24, the poultry showmanship will be held in the arena barn at 9 a.m. Only 4-H members are allowed. The rabbit show is at 12 p.m. and only 4-H members are allowed to this event as well. At 3 p.m., the goat show will be in the outdoor arena. The goats will not be housed on the grounds this year. The dairy, beef showmanship and beef breeding will be at 5 p.m. Animals will not be housed on the grounds. From 2 to 4 p.m., the come-and-go projects will be on the grounds.

On Saturday, July 25, the stock dog competition will be at 2 p.m. The Ranch Rodeo and Women’s Iron Horse event will be at 3 p.m. On Sunday, July 26, the barrel race event will be held at 9 a.m.






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