Concerns over the coronavirus pandemic may have caused the cancelation of this year’s Sacramento County Fair, but one of the fair’s decades-old traditions will continue in a new, high-tech format.
The fair’s Junior Livestock Auction, which challenges agriculture students to raise and sell farm animals, will go “virtual” and be held online on May 21-23.
About 500 students are participating in the auction, the fair’s CEO, Pam Fryock said. These students include local 4-H Club members as well as Future Farmers of America (FFA) members in high schools across the Elk Grove region.
“We need the community to come together to support these kids because (the auction sales) go to their college funds,” Fryock said.
The opening bids for all of the animals will begin at 9 a.m. on May 21. Bids will close on May 22 for steers, lambs, and goats. The bidding for swine, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and eggs will close on May 23.
Mike Albiani, an agriculture teacher at Elk Grove High School, said that his students remained dedicated to raising their animals for the fair during a challenging time when their campus is closed during the coronavirus situation. He said that students started working on their steer projects last fall and began raising the other animals in January.
Albiani said that the livestock projects teaching work ethics such as cooperation and responsibility.
“You’re rewarding them for sticking through the project,” he said about how the livestock auction benefits students.
Buyer registration is now open at the fair’s website. Once registered, buyers will be allowed to preview the animals for sale on a website and they will also know the time when an animal is up for auction, Fryock said.
In this online auction, buyers can stay at home and place bids on animals by using computers or smartphones. Unlike an in-person auction where buyers only have a few minutes to quickly outbid each other on an animal, this online auction allows buyers to place their bids early and later be notified via text messages if they were outbid by other buyers.
When a buyer wins a bid then he or she can either have the animal processed and packaged for meat, resold back to the seller, or resold as a tax-deductible donation to benefit the Sacramento County Fair Foundation.
“We’re very excited about new buyers we’ve never had before,” Fryock said. “People are excited to help kids and they get to help fill their freezer.”
Animal pricing will be per head instead of body weight, and the minimum bids range from $500 for swine and goats to $100 for small animals, and $1,500 for steer. Organizers noted the prices are generally higher than the commercial value, due to the work and special attention of students in raising the livestock.
And as per fair tradition, supporters can contribute “add-ons” or additional funds to the students after the auction ends. They can still support students without having to purchase their animals. Add-ons will be accepted through June 5 and the minimum contribution is $50.
Fryock said that buyers who cannot join the online auction can instead use the option of “proxy buying” or having county fair staff members place bids on animal for them in the auction. Proxy buyers must fill out a registration form that’s available on the fair’s website, and then fax or email a completed form to the fair staff. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org and fax number is (916) 263-2973. Fryock requested this form to be submitted by May 19.
For more information on the online livestock auction and buyer registration, visit the fair’s website, www.SacFair.com, or call (916) 263-2975.