While Stanislaus County enters into what’s become known as Phase 2 of recovery from COVID-19, one thing remains the same, the Stanislaus County Fair is cancelled.
For a number of Oakdale High School as well as students in the community it is a cancellation which has left them in the, what’s now common, uncharted territory.
“As it sits right now, the fair is cancelled and that’s not going to change as far as the indoor exhibits and all that goes with it,” OHS Ag Department Chair and Instructor Isaac Robles stated.
Alternatives for the cancellation are currently being discussed, Robles shared including working on trying to establish multiple one day shows in person where students could bring in animals, show it and turn over to fair to process. That’s an option Robles doesn’t see as logistically possible in a reasonable amount of time.
“It would still be shown in the on-line virtual auction,” he said of the live option, as well as the planned remote virtual option.
“They’re going to hold a virtual auction for the kids,” Robles explained of the virtual plan which have been established. “Every kid prepped for the fair has an option to participate in this.”
Regardless of the manner in which the auction happens, Robles and his team have continued to work at the school farm supporting students with their livestock projects. The OHS Ag team developed a plan for school farm early into the pandemic, initially maintaining the animals for the students. Within a few weeks, a transition plan allowed students to come in limited capacity to tend to their projects.
“The first few weeks kids stayed away from the farm entirely,” Robles said, noting they were reintroduced in small groups.
Now the challenge comes as to how to release the livestock projects they have raised for a time which will be very different than from the past. Robles said the virtual auction is a viable option, yet it will probably not yield the same market price for the student as the live auctions traditionally do.
“We’ve been telling our kids, you’ve got to find a buyer,” he said of the close to 100 OHS students affected. “More so than ever before. It is so import that they find support.”
Traditionally speaking, the live auction livestock price yields the student enough money to recoup the cost of raising their project. The virtual option however, will likely not be able to do that for the student. This is where the students will need the help of community, in a way which has not been needed before.
“Our community does every bit that they can, but we have more students showing livestock projects than we have in the past,” Robles acknowledged, “that we’ve outpaced our ability to help them a little bit. This year’s going to be tough.”
“I would say about three-quarters of our kids are going to need support of some kind, be it a buyer or a sponsor,” Ag instructor Grace Tobias added.
The teachers shared that while purchase of livestock outright to butcher would be most ideal, the reality is a sponsorship would be just as advantageous for the large student population.
“Let’s say somebody has $500 they want to put on one kid. A lot of times I encourage them to put a hundred dollars on five kids that goes a lot further than just $500 on one,” Robles said. “Five hundred on one probably doesn’t pay for the animal anyways.”
As with purchase, sponsorship is also tax deductible. Arrangements and opportunities are updated as well as available through www.stancofair.com.
“We’ll put all of the updates and information on our website as well which is oakdaleffa.com,” Tobias added.