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Lively livestock auction caps ‘different’ Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair

Friday’s final day and night of activities at the annual Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair finally gave participants, and some spectators, a feeling of normalcy.

The show floor inside Carroll County Agriculture Center’s Shipley Arena attracted the general public for the first time this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The county fair had been closed to the public prior to Friday, but things changed with the youth livestock auction capping the week’s schedule.

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People and farm animals shared the room, with excited kids and teenagers getting their cows, pigs, goats, sheep, and chickens ready for potential sale.

Auctioneers’ voices sped their way over the public address system. Bleats and shrieks interrupted the flow now and then. Bids came from in-person and online, where the auction was broadcast for some 200 buyers (a fair first).

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Just outside Shipley Arena, a row of food vendors gave people a midway to peruse and take advantage of Friday evening’s pleasant weather. In the lobby, fairgoers could bid on silent auction items.

It was a hum of activity, perhaps for the first time all week ― a welcome sight, and welcome sounds, to those helping the fair run smoothly.

“It’s been great that we’ve actually been able to give the kids an opportunity,” said Jim Weishaar, chairman of the fair board. “That was our goal from the start. And the kids and their families have been super appreciative of all the work we’ve put in.”

Molly Rill, 19, of Hampstead shows her Champion Yorkshire pigs to bidders during the 2020 Livestock Sale at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair on Friday, August 7.
Molly Rill, 19, of Hampstead shows her Champion Yorkshire pigs to bidders during the 2020 Livestock Sale at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair on Friday, August 7. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Before the auction began, livestock sale superintendent Ramona Rawlings used the PA system to tell the crowd this year’s fair featured 247 head of livestock. She compared that to last year’s number of 251 during a county fair that didn’t have to deal with a pandemic.

Rawlings was part of the clean-up crew that worked into Saturday morning to move the livestock out of the building. She said the auction finished late Friday night with $577,796.40 spent.

“Feeling very blessed and exhausted,” Rawlings said via text message.

Fair officials said if the online bidding process went well, they might consider making that a permanent part of the event going forward. Some families have said it will let family members from far away participate.

The fair board had considered live-streaming the livestock shows throughout the week, but found that hiring a company to do so would have been to expensive during a year when the fair is bringing in very little revenue.

Face coverings were required for those who stayed inside Shipley Arena, and there were hand washing stations and sanitizer pumps around the room. People did their best to practice social distancing guidelines while trying to get eyes on a potential purchase.

Noah Geiman, 15, stayed behind the auction table with a schedule of events in his hand. This year’s Mr. Carroll County 4-H is a sophomore-to-be at Francis Scott Key High School, and said he’s been involved with the fair for several years.

Noah said it’s never easy parting ways with an animal, but he understands the process.

Evan Kahler, 10, of Keymar stands with his pen of champion birds during the 2020 Livestock Sale at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair on Friday, August 7.
Evan Kahler, 10, of Keymar stands with his pen of champion birds during the 2020 Livestock Sale at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair on Friday, August 7. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

“I’ve been around it all the time. We’ve grown up with it,” said Noah, who lives in Pleasant Valley. “We’ve taken the animals out, taken them to the butcher shop. My dad and my grandfather explained why we have to process the animal ... now I understand and I’m helping all the adults that have to run this.”

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Carroll County’s commissioners expressed their thanks Thursday during their weekly meeting for everyone who came together to host a successful event.

“They have put together an amazing week, I think, for the kids, and really done things the way they had to,” commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, said during the meeting. “I know they’ve been in close contact with the health department, and working together they made it happen.”

Commissioner President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, acknowledged this year’s fair was unlike any other because of the pandemic. Ed Singer, Carroll County health officer, said he went online because he was curious to see how the fair was going to run.

Singer said he was pleased to see a plan in place to try and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“They did just a great job of not only making a plan, but actually sticking to the plan and implementing the plan,” Singer said.

Away from the center of the Shipley Arena floor, 7-year-old dairy cow Dieon did her best to relax in her makeshift stall and show off at the same time ― such is life for this year’s Supreme Champion cow.

Trinity Miller, 18, of Westminster proudly talks about her Supreme Champion Cow, Dieon, during the 2020 Livestock Sale at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair on Friday, August 7. This was the second time the 7-year-old dairy cow received the award.
Trinity Miller, 18, of Westminster proudly talks about her Supreme Champion Cow, Dieon, during the 2020 Livestock Sale at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair on Friday, August 7. This was the second time the 7-year-old dairy cow received the award. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Dieon took home the same prize in 2017, said owner Trinity Miller, who raised her big brown cow from birth at her family’s Pheasant Echoes Farm in Westminster.

Miller, 18, is a 10-year veteran of 4-H and has been coming to the fair for several years. She’s also a recent graduate of Francis Scott Key High School, and said this year’s fair was a unique way to age out of things.

“This week has definitely been different,” Miller said. “It has been weird. You can’t hug anyone, or shake anyone’s hand. [But] we got to go home, we’ve had breaks in-between. It’s been kind of relaxing, honestly.”

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