4-H members show their goats at the 4-H/FFA Livestock Show at last year’s County Fair in Sonoita. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

 The Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo Association (SCCFRA) Board has announced that plans are underway for the 105th annual Santa Cruz County Fair to take place this September.

In a statement to the PRT, Harry Dotson, President, SCCFRA, wrote, “The SCCFRA Board of Directors is committed to conducting a County Fair in 2020. However…this year’s fair may not look like those in the recent past. We are particularly committed to having the 4H/FFA/Champions for Youth Foundation portion of the fair. To that end, we are working closely with those organizations to provide a meaningful event for the youth of our community. In addition to the 4H and FFA activities we envision a fair that hearkens back to a basic celebration for our community. We are working now on activities and events that are safe and fun for all members of our community. But as we all know the COVID landscape seems to change daily. We can assure you that as we plan, the health and safety of our community will be in the forefront of our thoughts.” 

Dean Fish, who, along with Amanda Zamudio and Valerie Burleson chair the Champions for Youth Foundation, discussed the challenges associated with putting on the 4-H / FFA livestock show and auction this year. The livestock and small stock show, auction, and judging of non-animal projects is the culmination of the year’s work for the 65 youth preparing ‘market projects’ – working with animals to show and sell at the annual event – and the more than 100 kids involved in 4-H and FFA projects. 

“We work with Cooperative Extension and the U of A and we will abide by their guidance,” he said. “We’re going to provide an opportunity for these young people to complete their projects,” he said. There might have to be a ‘virtual’ competition and/or auction this year, or the competitors may be able to attend the event at the fairgrounds in person to show their animals. 

“August 15 will be when we will make the decision,” Fish said. “We would have to comply with CDC guidelines and state or county requirements.” The decision will be made by the U of A, which oversees the Cooperative Extension program, with input from the livestock committee, 4-H leaders and FFA advisors. “We are now in a holding pattern,” Fish said. “We are going to make our decision based on the health and safety of the young people involved.” 

The 4-H / FFA auction is important for the youth involved in raising and showing their animals, as the money earned enables the participants to pay for the feed and care of the animals they are raising and to purchase their next project, as well as put money aside for higher education. When asked if he were concerned if restrictions, or perhaps the need to hold the auction online, would hurt sales, Fish responded, “We’ll provide a way for these kids to financially make out with these projects.”