kids and livestock

The Gila County Fair’s Junior Livestock Show and Auction for members of 4-H and FFA will look different this year — instead of taking place at the fairgrounds in Globe, both will be online due to concerns and precautions for COVID-19.

Gila County students have had to forego academic clubs, friends, movies, and dinner out. Consider the additional stress dealt to the 4-H and FFA participants who invested money, time and energy into raising pigs, goats, sheep and cattle and then learned that the Gila County Fair in Globe would be canceled — for the first time in its 50-year history.

But fair, 4-H and FFA organizers have scrambled to arrange for a virtual livestock show and an online livestock auction on Sept. 26.

More than 50 pre-registered bidders competed last year — and new buyers are welcome. If you’re interested, but don’t have room in your freezer for a whole hog or goat, or beef, consider going in with a group of friends or coworkers.

Much of the experience for bidders and spectators will feel similar to last year’s auction, with 4-H and FFA kids dressed in their chapter colors and showcasing their groomed animals on video for the virtual shows, and photographs for the online auction. Some barnyard ambiance and aroma of the sales ring will be absent this year, but the show must go on.

A tradition that unites generations of Gila County ranchers and 4-H families, albeit online, the virtual auction guards the health of youth participants, their parents and adult volunteers and livestock judges in keeping with federal, state and county guidelines limiting crowds and safe physical distancing.

“We’re making the best of a tough situation, and yes, it will be different this year,” said Jacque Sanders, a longtime volunteer and fair board member.

“Gila County is following 4-H policy from state leadership and we’re so very thankful to the faithful buyers who have generously supported our livestock auction for so many years. Here’s a special recognition to our Copper Buyers Club members including Jason Guilliam with The Plumbing Company and Guilliam Concrete, John Augustine Ranch, the Dalmolin Family (5D Mining & Construction, and Dalmolin Excavating), DJ’s Companies, Inc., Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center, John & Kerstin Fowler (AZ Materials, Rockin’ 4 Cattle Company, J Bar J Cattle Company), Freeport McMoRan, Sundt Construction, Professional Piping Systems LLC, Oddonetto Construction, TriStar Industrial, J&B Trucking, McSpadden Ford, Kenny & Laurie Hawkins.”

Copper Buyers Club members listed above were the most active and competitive bidders last year, 14 amongst more than 50 registered buyers. Stats from 2019 show the average steer brought $5,856, while lambs averaged $1,501, swine $2,240, goats $1,360 and turkeys $187.

Read more and find auction updates at gilacountyfair.com. Buyers can bookmark the auction site bid.virtualstockshow.com, and register the week before the auction.

For details, email gilacountyfair@gmail.com for more information.

And a reminder to 4-H and FFA students and families: livestock weigh-in is Sept. 18-19.

Sept. 18 weigh-in will be held in Payson for Tonto Basin and Payson participants, and in Young for those exhibitors.

Sept. 18 and 19 weigh-in will be held in Globe.

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