BAKERSFIELD, CA. — “Because of Covid, our school farm was shut down, so we reach out to the community and members opened up their back yards and feed lots and this is a home away from home for these students," said Michael Leischman, Highland FFA advisor.
Highland FFA students were left in the dust with purchased animals for their annual supervised agricultural experience when the Kern County Fair decided in July it wasn’t going to go on this year due to Covid-19 - and with that, the in-person auction was also left to be decided.
Students spend almost a year raising their animals every year in preparation for the annual auction. So the fair decided the show will go on - virtually.
“The difference between last year is pretty big. We were more worried about weights. But this year, it's online so we don't have to worry about weight, but I'm sad I wont be able to show at the fair because it's a good experience to show how much you work with your animal and how much it works with you," said Kaitlyn Bruster, Highland FFA student.
This year, students will have to prerecord a one minute, unedited showing for a virtual auction.
“They’ll record the best aspects of the animal and submit to the fair, the fair will rank them first second and third, still a winner and still an auction. Similar to eBay where someone can come in and outbid you," said Leischman.
Another major change this year will be the absence of 'Buyer #9' - a loyal bidder at the Kern County Fair.
Typically, Buyer #9 would set a base price of $7 - $8 per pound, leaving the bidding to only go up from there. But this year, the buyer has chosen not to participate.
"It is worrisome because buyer number nine isn't going to be there and buyer number nine buys the animals that no one else wants so there is that chance you wont be able to pay back yourself," said Bruster.