MADISON COUNTY FAIR
FFA and 4-H students will showcase their animals at the Madison County Fair Aug. 12-16.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners, at the recommendation of the Madison County Fair Board, canceled all entertainment for the 2020 county fair. The coronavirus posed too much of a risk to the staff, volunteers, participants and spectators to conduct the rodeo, parade, indoor vendors and open classes. But the animal showcases and livestock sales portion of the fair met COVID-19 safety requirements.
“We did it for the kids this year,” Madison County Fairgrounds Manager Dana Escott said. “The kids put in a lot of effort and time with these animals.”
Each late winter/early spring, 4-H and FFA students purchase baby animals to care for and showcase about six months later. Students raise any domestic animal of their choosing – cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, pigs, cows, sheep, goats. Students are judged on their showmanship of their animal. Livestock animals are also judged on their desirable market traits. All market animals are sold in an auction after being exhibited and judged.
“It gives the kids a snapshot of what the industry is like,” Madison and Jefferson County 4-H Agent Mikayla Hudson said.
All the animals, except pigs, will be shown in the grandstands arena. The larger arena will allow for social distancing among the students and the limited spectators. Unleashed pigs would be a mess in the grandstands, according to Escott. Pigs will be shown in a smaller arena designed to show pigs. Ten pigs will be exhibited at a time and rotated through until a final grand champion and a reserve champion is awarded.
According to Escott, most fairs in the state have made similar decisions about their county fairs. Student participation is lower than usual, but it is unclear by how much. Hudson said that the participation rate is not as bad as she predicted, with Madison County’s 4-H exhibitors at 61% of the 2019 participation.
The Madison County Public Health Board has approved the showcase and livestock sale’s health plan.
“I really think it’s going to go off without a hitch,” Hudson said.