BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Earlier this week, the Kern County Fair Board confirmed that the annual event will not happen this year due to COVID-19, but they are planning on hosting their livestock show virtually.
Participants told 23ABC's Kallyn Hobmann that they are determined to not let this change of plans impact their performance.
“It just makes you want to work harder. I’ve been working hard to get sponsors, trying to fundraise. It makes me want to try harder," said Christy-Sue Lopez.
Lopez is a junior at Highland High School. She is also the president of Highland Future Farmers Of America. When Lopez learned that the Kern County Fair’s livestock show would be virtual this year, she knew she was up for the challenge. Still, she said she would miss bonding with her team.
“I was a little bit disappointed that we were going to miss the showmanship because we’re going to miss the new memories we’d be making, new friendships," Lopez said.
This fall, Lopez will be showing a market hog. She said she is preparing for the virtual show the same way she would for a live, in-person event.
“I prepare my pigs like I would for a real show. I’m still training them, working them every day… making sure that they're up to show standards," Lopez said.
Participants will submit a sixty-second video of their animals to the show’s judges. These videos will be broken up by breed and weight class. Highland FFA advisor Amber Carter said these videos still require the same preparation as previous years.
“We really haven’t changed how we’re preparing for fair. [We] just know that ultimately what we’re submitting is a little different than us actually walking into the arena," Carter said.
Still, Carter said there are some downfalls to going virtual.
“There’s obviously some concerns about how well that will play out when we start looking at people that are probably a little better at videotaping," she said.
Carter told 23ABC she is grateful that the fair board is still making a show happen, especially because many participants use these shows to save up for college or help with family finances. They put in anything from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars each year.
“At the end of the day, the fact that they're still getting to show, the fact that they’re still getting to do an auction, is tremendous. Losing out just one year of money when you’ve been trying to pool it can be a tremendous loss for them," Carter said.
Carter said her students generally have a positive, determined attitude because, at the end of the day, it’s about the animals.
“It doesn’t matter whether we’re going to have a live show or virtual show. They still have an animal to take care of. They still have an animal to get ready and so there’s no point in crying about it. You just have to move on and do the best that you can," Carter said.
To enter the virtual livestock show, visit the livestock page on the Kern County Fair’s website.