HERMISTON — The Umatilla County Fair has announced a change in plans for fair week, Aug. 11-15.
Exhibitors will no longer be required to meet with a judge in person on the fairgrounds to show their animal. A Thursday, July 30, press release from fair manager Angie McNalley stated there were “valid and informed concerns” that Umatilla County will be back to Phase 1 reopening restrictions by fair week.
“If this were to happen, state 4-H and FFA guidelines would require them to withdraw from any on-site activities,” the release stated. “With our event approaching quickly and based on that information, the Fair Board decided that in order for the smoothest transition should that happen, they would eliminate the requirement for the market livestock exhibitors to enter the fairgrounds to sell their animals.”
The county had previously canceled rides, concerts, parades, booths and other in-person activities during fair week, other than allowing 4-H and FFA students to come to the fairgrounds in person to show their animal to a judge. Under the new plan, youths will drop off their animals at the fairgrounds, where they will be weighed in, judged for confirmation and sent to a feed lot to await the Youth Livestock Auction at the end of the week.
4-H will provide their students with a link to upload showmanship videos they made at home for judging. FFA students can submit a showmanship video through a link that will be set up by the fair, but the videos will not be scored by fair judges and will be “purely an opportunity for kids to obtain tips and feedback from a judge after the event.”
Photos of the animals will still be taken at weigh-in for the auction, and exhibitors will have the option of posing with their animal for the photo.
During the auction, potential bidders can request to attend the open-air, socially distanced auction in person on the fairgrounds, allow the sale committee to act as their proxy, or place bids online while watching a livestream of the event.
Static exhibits, such as produce and crafts, can still be dropped off at the fairgrounds for judging the week before fair week, as previously planned.
“With this direction, we want to convey that every effort has been made by our volunteers and staff to create the safest opportunity for all participants and animals given the current ‘Covid climate’ and to efficiently implement necessary changes,” the news release stated.