RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – State and county fairs across the nation have been canceled this year because of the coronavirus. However, one New Mexico county wanted to make sure students who’ve spent months raising livestock still get the opportunity to show off their work.
For six years, 18-year-old Kaitlin Ashbrook has shown animals in the Sandoval County fair. “Usually I’ll show a goat. I just started showing lambs and I’ll show a pig as well,” Ashbrook says.
But this year, coronavirus has put a damper on that tradition. “The show is such a big thing for me and my family like we work so hard for this, so I was a little concerned that we wouldn’t have it,” said Ashbrook. While the fair has been postponed this year, 4-H students will still have an opportunity to show off the livestock they’ve worked so hard to raise.
“We wanted to reward our youth for all of their hard work that they’ve been doing throughout the summertime because that didn’t change just because of COVID. Our 4-H kids have been active and learning all through the pandemic,” says 4-H Agent Nicole Lujan.
But instead of showing at the fairgrounds, the 5 to 18-year-olds will submit videos of their livestock online. “We can just take those files and videos and give them to the judge and he’ll judge them and then through the ShoWorks platform they have an auction site,” Lujan says. She says an added benefit to holding the show online is that people across the nation can participate in the auction. “Hopefully we’ll be able to make a groundbreaking auction this year for our kids,” Lujan says.
Now Ashbrook says she’s getting her animals ready to film. “So we have to clip it, we have to wash it, just stuff like that,” Ashbrook says. And she’s thankful for the opportunity to show, one final time.
“This is just such a big thing for me and my family and I’m glad it’s at least virtual because I know they are trying to keep us safe,” Ashbrook says. The virtual livestock shows are July 29 to 31. The auction is August 1.