Merced County Fair holding 'virtual livestock auction' to support students

The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the Merced County Fair, impacting hundreds of students. Now a virtual auction may help them recoup their losses.
MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the Merced County Fair, which also had a financial impact on hundreds of 4H and FFA students.

That's why they're now preparing to sell their animals online, and community members are being asked to help support the hardworking young leaders.

Merced High Senior Oscar Torres has been working hard all year to get his swine, named Waylon the Third, ready for auction.

Torres says, "Every day twice a day you feed, you come out here morning and night sometimes more depending on the day, weigh your pig, feed your pig, walk your pig, everything to make sure when you go to the fair you're prepared because all of the other students are doing the same thing."

Stone Ridge Christian senior Alyssa Vander Woude has also had her hands full with this spirited dairy cow, Freya.

"She's been a bit of challenge. She likes to run so it's been tough, but I think we've come a lot way, and just worked with her and trying to prepare her for what would have been fair," says Vander Woude.

Both students were disappointed when the Merced County Fair had to be cancelled, but their animals are now among the nearly 500 that will be sold online instead.

The fair's C.E.O. Teresa Burrola says, "It's extremely exciting. It's our first year of a virtual livestock auction."

The fair has partnered with Merced Irrigation District to set up the event, which will run from Thursday, June 11th at 8 a.m. through Saturday, June 13th at 8 p.m. Supporters will be able to visit to purchase an animal or donate through an add-on bid. Organizers say local businesses have already contributed about 50-thousand dollars, but they're hoping this sale will help the students recoup more of their costs and raise funds for their futures.

Burrola explains, "We need more community support because traditionally our auction brings in about 800-thousand dollars so it's made a dent, but we really need to come together and support them."

The students say this sudden shift has taught them some real life lessons when it comes to technology, marketing, and adapting. They're each posting photos and videos to promote their projects, and they're thankful to be to be "moo-ving" forward with the sale.

"I''m so thankful that we're being given the opportunity to be able to sell our animals through the fair and show off all our hard work. I'm just glad we're still able to do that. It's a blessing," says Vander Woude.

Torres adds, "The fair was beyond supportive of students like us, and we're very appreciative for that."

You can find details on how to register as a buyer and how the new process will work, plus see catalogs for the virtual sale by clicking here.
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