Replacement Heifer Sale and Junior Livestock Auction this weekend
PASO ROBLES — 4H and FFA members are now breaking out their white pants and dusting off those National Blue jackets.
FFA and 4H members across the county are gearing up for the California Mid State Fair (CMSF), back in full force.
Like almost everything else in 2020, the CMSF was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rather than showing in person, students entered a 90-second video which was then sent to a judge. The livestock auction was then held virtually.
Many of the students decided to opt out of submitting a video and tried selling their animals on their own rather than taking a chance in the virtual auction.
Not only was the fair canceled, but the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation also announced they would not be returning to the CMSF livestock auction.
Since 2012, the foundation has been responsible for purchasing nearly half of the FFA and 4-H livestock animals up for bid at the CMSF.
Each animal purchased by the foundation was also then donated to local food banks. In 2014, they donated nearly 90,000 pounds of meat to the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County.
Fortunately, the CMSF is back, and with it, the livestock shows and auction will function as they normally did before COVID.
To fill the shoes of the Woods-Claeyssens Foundation, the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund “Buyer’s Coalition” was formed.
The new coalition says, “After the cancellation of the California Mid-State fair due to COVID-19, and the change in years of support from the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, it is essential to step in with a community-led group aimed at making a difference. Our group will assist youth exhibitors by purchasing projects and local families in need by putting student-raised protein right back into our food supply.”
But, just because the fair and livestock shows are back doesn’t mean all the students returned.
Paso Robles (PRHS), Templeton (THS), and Atascadero (AHS) High Schools have all seen a decline in students showing animals this year.
Chris Hildebrand, THS welding teacher, and livestock advisor, said their chapter had seen a 50 percent decline in kids showing this year.
“It’s partly due to all the unknowns when the kids had to get their animals, and also part of it is due to the fact that the foundation won’t be coming back again. So there is no safety net for prices,” Hildebrand explained.
Kyle Dadson, AHS livestock advisor, and AG teacher, also said their chapter had also seen a 50 percent decline in students showing livestock.
Dadson says their decline is also due to uncertainty and because advisors have not been able to build a connection with the incoming freshman class.
“We haven’t built a connection with the freshman class, so I’m having a little bit of a hard time developing the relationships, talking to the kids about ‘hey, it’s not just about inside the classroom. Through FFA, there is a tremendous amount of opportunities,” Dadson shared.
Justin Pickard, welding teacher and advisor for PRHS, echoed what Hildebrand and Dadson experienced.
This year the livestock auction will be held in person and virtually, allowing more buyers to participate.
Ways people can support the livestock kids is to donate to the Livestock Awards Program or James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Project.
Another way is to “add on” to a student’s price per pound of their animal. Buyers will be able to purchase add-ons virtually through Aug. 8.
“The kids are working hard, and we’re trying to rebuild the steam. They’ve had so much taken away—show them there’s an end goal, work hard, and you get what you get,” said Dadson.
The 2021 CMSF Replacement Heifer Sale is on Friday, Jul. 30, and Junior Livestock Auction is on Saturday, Jul. 31. For more information visit midstatefair.com