Ag Society to Allow Camping & Livestock Stalling at County Fair; 4-H Still Determining How Events Will Run

CUSTER COUNTY—The Custer County Ag Society held a special board meeting on Thursday, June 18 to further discuss the 2020 county fair which is currently scheduled for July 24 through July 30 at the Custer County Fairgrounds.

Multiple motions were made following abundant discussion to either approve or not approve various aspects of the fair that are typically overseen by the Ag Society.

The board APPROVED the following events to take place during the fair:
• Campers and camping following Nebraska Game and Parks guidelines
• Stalling of all livestock species Sunday—Thursday of fair
• Petal Tractor Pull
• Vendors under the grandstands
• Food trucks and concessions
• Evening entertainment for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday was approved as long as the event organizers submit their plans to the Loup Basin Public Health Department (LBPHD) and follow state Directed Health Measures (DHM) and/or sign waivers for the fairgrounds
• Livestock Auction to take place as usual using a base bid. Kent Nelson, Rodney Lamb, and Marla Stallbaumer will serve on a committee to oversee possible COVID-19 health measures.
• The board approved allowing the CWF to return to the fairgrounds to sell concessions whenever they feel comfortable doing so (see below)

Despite the unknown regarding where the animals will be processed following the auction, board member Marla Stallbaumer made the motion to host the livestock auction as normal as possible and emphasized the importance of the full circle aspect kids get to experience with a market project.

“The livestock auction to me—it’s the live auction. The kids actually sell the animal and to me that’s what sets it apart from like Buffalo County. I think we get a lot of kids in to bring their animals because of the auction and to me they can start the project, then they work with it all year, they show it, and the sale is one last chance to showcase that animal through the sale ring. And then when they’re done they get to go shake the hand of the person buying it and to me as a market project, it’s beginning to end right there,” Stallbaumer told KCNI/KBBN on June 18.

The board did NOT APPROVE the following to take place during the fair:
• Open Horse Show
• Celebrity Cow Milking Contest
• Open Class Show
• CWF Group will not be selling concessions this year due to no trip this year and trouble finding enough help
• FFA Livestock Judging Contest
• Porta Potties will not be available

The board tabled decisions regarding the teen dance and the square dance depending on the DHMs in place at the time of the fair. The board also went into executive session to discuss financials.

Marla Stallbaumer said she believes tradition is what sets the Custer County Fair apart from others and hopes to host events as “normal” as possible.

“I feel like we need try to have a fair as normal as possible. There’s going to be a lot of changes along the way but our kids have been working and their lives have been turned upside down so I feel like we kind of owe it to them—they’ve put the work in—to do everything we can for them,” Stallbaumer added.

It was determined by LBPHD representative Amanda Jeffries that the use of social distancing and wearing masks are forms of COVID-19 prevention “best practices” and it is recommended these measures are included in event plans–which must be submitted to the health department at least a week in advance.

Extension Educator Troy Walz told KCNI/KBBN the Extension office and 4-H will be submitting separate plans for different days of the fair as well as various exhibits and events. Walz added this year’s fair will be a “learning experience” for everyone involved.

Extension Assistant in charge of 4-H Youth Development Colleen Peterson said the 4-H superintendents met via Zoom last Tuesday for a nearly four-hour meeting in which event proposals were presented to the 4-H Council. Peterson said it has been difficult to plan for the fair because the DHMs and guidelines from the LBPHD, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and state 4-H keep changing so quickly.

Peterson and the council are continuously working to communicate with 4-H families with correct and accurate information. Fair entries for 4-H are due to the extension office by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 26.

“We are planning for county fair 4-H events but we just want everybody to know that they will be with some modifications. So please be patient as we get those modifications out to 4-H families. Don’t shoot the messenger!” Peterson told KCNI/KBBN.

Peterson confirmed with KCNI/KBBN the following events will NOT take place as usual and instead will be done differently:
• The 4-H awards presentation will not take place this year and kids can pick up their awards from the extension office instead.
• No public fashion show (would have been held on July 16). 4-H staff and volunteers will instead take video clips of kids styling their projects and will put together a virtual 4-H fashion show.
• Shooting Sports will not take place during the fair due to the timing of the events and difficulty enforcing social distancing. Instead, a “Postal Match” will be held August through the beginning of November in which students are able to social distance within their own club rather than all participants at once. 4-H leaders will need to turn in the targets and results to the extension office.