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Livestock show for Harford County youth on for late July, auction will be Aug. 1

Ava Grabowski leads her grand champion market steer around the ring as the bids start to come in during the 4-H Livestock Auction at the 2019 Harford County Farm Fair. This year's fair is canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but a Harford County Youth Livestock Show & Sale has scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 1 at the county’s Equestrian Center in Bel Air, where the Farm Fair usually takes place.
Ava Grabowski leads her grand champion market steer around the ring as the bids start to come in during the 4-H Livestock Auction at the 2019 Harford County Farm Fair. This year's fair is canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but a Harford County Youth Livestock Show & Sale has scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 1 at the county’s Equestrian Center in Bel Air, where the Farm Fair usually takes place. (Matt Button / The Aegis)

While the annual Harford County Farm Fair has been canceled for 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, local youth who have spent the past year raising animals in anticipation of selling them during the annual 4-H Livestock Sale at the fair will still be able to do so next month.

“We will just have an abbreviated show,” said Mike Doran, who co-chairs this year’s show and sale committee with Debbie Heston.

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The Harford County Youth Livestock Show & Sale is scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 1 at the county’s Equestrian Center in Bel Air, where the Farm Fair usually takes place. Youths who are ages 8 to 18 as of Jan. 1 will be able to show their livestock to judges from Wednesday, July 29 to Friday, July 31, and the auction will be 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1.

The show and sale are not affiliated with the 4-H or Future Farmers of America — the two agricultural youth organization whose members typically participate in the auction during the fair — or Harford County Farm Fair Inc., Doran said.

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“It’s open to all youth that meet the age requirements for those two organizations,” he said of the 4-H and FFA.

Organizers of the Farm Fair announced in May that this year’s fair, scheduled for late July, would be canceled because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus at an event that typically draws thousands of people to the fairgrounds, as well as state-level restrictions on holding large events and restrictions on the types of activities 4-Hers can participate in during the pandemic. Organizers have focused on planning the county fair for 2021.

Doran, Heston and livestock superintendents who work with youth as they prepare for shows and auctions still wanted to put on an event so youths can show and sell the animals they have been raising over the past year.

“A lot of people have come together and donated money and time and a lot of hard work” to put on the event, Doran said, noting the Harford County Farm Bureau as well as local businesses and farmers have donated thousands of dollars to support the program.

Not having a sale would create “a great financial impact” for youths who have “spent money and invested a lot of time in their projects.” The committee also has had “great support” from County Executive Barry Glassman and Billy Boniface, Glassman’s chief adviser and former director of administration for the county government, in terms of securing a facility and establishing coronavirus-related safety guidelines, according to Doran.

“It’s the right thing to do, we believe, and it’s what needs to be done,” he added.

The show and sale will be conducted with precautions in place to prevent the spread of illness. The livestock shows are not open to the public, and each of the three days will be dedicated to a specific animal, such as one day for pigs and another for steers. Youths also cannot stay overnight but must head home after their shows end, according to Doran.

The Aug. 1 sale will only be open to the exhibitors and potential buyers, and visitors should wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands during the event. Anybody who is not comfortable attending in person but wants to bid on an animal can contact Doran at 443-506-8746 or HCYLSS@hotmail.com for assistance. People also can visit the Harford County Youth Livestock Show & Sale page on Facebook for more information.

Potential buyers can bid “however they feel comfortable — we’re not trying to put anybody at risk,” Doran said.

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