Ag Society Plans to Move Forward with 2020 Custer County Fair

CUSTER COUNTY–The annual Custer County Fair and whether or not it will continue in 2020 was one of the main points of discussion during the May 14 Ag Society meeting. The meeting was held via Zoom in accordance with COVID-19 Directed Health Measures (DHM).

The 2020 fair is currently scheduled for July 24 through July 30 and following a great deal of discussion, the Ag Society decided to proceed with planning this year’s fair.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Educator Troy Walz shared some information from Nebraska 4-H that if an in-person fair takes place rather than a virtual fair, there may be additional guidelines put into place. Walz shared different scenarios of fair judging that included social distancing and hand sanitizer stations among others.

Custer County Ag Society held its May 14 meeting via Zoom

Extension Assistant Colleen Peterson focuses on 4-H Youth Development and said the June Jamboree Program is all virtual and no face-to-face programming with 4-H youth is allowed until June 15, with the possibility for that deadline to be extended.

Board members agreed the county fair’s main focus is the 4-H youth and they plan on moving forward at this point. Troy Walz said everything is a gamble with guidelines and restrictions continuing to change. However, Walz also said the fair premium books are completed, ear tags and ID sheets have been distributed, and the CWF trip for this year has been postponed to 2021.

Chase Christen with the 4-H Council said fair awards and t-shirts have been ordered. Regarding the 2022 CWF trip, Christen said 25 delegates are currently scheduled to go and he and Peterson expressed concern if there would be enough students to run the fair concession stands.

A big concern surrounding fair included the livestock auction and the ability to get base bids amid the current livestock situation surrounding COVID-19, mainly swine as stated in the unapproved meeting minutes submitted by Secretary Marla Stallbaumer.

Walz said–on average–there are usually 250-280 head of livestock in the auction with about 90-100 pigs. He said local packs are heavily booked and the board discussed the possibility of a premium auction rather than the traditional base bid auction.

Also during Thursday night’s Zoom meeting, the board approved its insurance renewal with Sharon Roberts of Insurance of the Heartland. The annual premium increased by about $3,000 compared to 2019 in part due to the new park restrooms and skidsteer. The annual premium is now $37,450 to be paid quarterly beginning June 23 in the amount of $9362.50. The board approved unanimously.

Fairgrounds Manager JJ Martin reported that the new stall barn (building 22) has been power washed and repainted. Martin said he has more painting projects on his list and has leveled the indoor arena.

Administrator Michelle Nelson said there are events scheduled for June at the fairgrounds but is unsure if they will be allowed to take place. She has been applying for grants and has been in contact with the Loup Basin Public Health Department and will hopefully know more information soon.

Nelson asked if the board would be in favor of keeping the gates to the fairgrounds unlocked and the board made a motion to unlock the gates in order for the public to use some of the facilities such as the indoor barn. The board discussed designating certain areas available for public use, increasing signage with current DHM guidelines, and the possibility of having fairgrounds attendees sign waivers. JJ Martin added that he would like to see the fairgrounds host more events in the near future that abide by the current 10-person rules.

Thursday night’s Zoom meeting also included the approval of the March 12 meeting minutes, the financial report, and the announcement that Deena Hardee had turned in her letter of resignation to the board in March. No decisions were made regarding a new board member as of Thursday.

The Ag Society’s Zoom meeting adjourned at 8:43 p.m.