The 2020 Hall County Fair started Wednesday with the 4-H Swine Show at Five Points Bank Arena.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hall County Fair significantly scaled back its festivities this year; however, an integral part of the fair, 4-H, was deemed essential.
“These kids are learning valuable lessons working with animals,” said Megan Knuth, an extension associate with the University of Nebraska Hall County Extension office.
“These kids work on these animals for one or even two years. ... So it is important for them to showcase these animals and learn.”
Knuth said the families involved with 4-H were extremely patient and safety conscious during the planning stages.
“They wanted to do what was best for the community,” she said.
With masks, hand sanitizing stations and social distancing encouraged, the event proceeded noticeably different than in recent years.
“It is a show-and-go,” Knuth said. “The kids bring in their pigs and show and then they head out. It is also more spread out.”
Typically, 4-H animals would be on display throughout the fair and shows would begin Friday. However, to ensure the safety of all involved, she said, new procedures were put in place. A number of them, such as digital programs and a more efficient flow of traffic, will continue to be used during the fair in the future.
For the 4-H families involved, the slight return to normalcy provided by the show was a welcome event.
4-H Council member Bill Jacobs said the event provides the youths involved a sense of pride and normalcy.
“For a long time, we thought we would do a virtual show,” Jacobs said.
An in-person traditional show allows the children to show their time spent working with the animals in a way that would have been difficult with a virtual show, he said.
“This shows the kids who work hard at home,” Jacobs said. “A virtual show is one minute on a camera, the judge scores it and it is over.”
Jacobs’ son, Jack, also said he was excited to see his friends and to return to normalcy during the pandemic.
Starting at 11 a.m., the swine showmanship contest included all age classifications, with 24 individuals participating.
Kirby Joy judged each 4-H’er on a variety of criteria, including ability to maintain eye contact, swine knowledge and number of passes in front of him.
In the senior classification of ages 14 and older, Callie Collins received champion honors.
Collins said she normally spends four hours per day working with her animal.
“We have a small lake behind our house, it is about a half mile, and we walk that every day,” she said. “We also bathe them twice a day.”
Joy chose Kaleigh Moeller as the reserve champion and Blaine Buller came in third.
The intermediate classification of ages 11-13 was a family affair. Emma Jacobs narrowly edged out her brother, Jack, for champion honors. Tyler Collins came in third.
Joy noted that it was a tough decision and all three presented their animals in exceptional ways.
He selected Wyatt Enevoldsen as champion of the Junior classification. Natalia Schultz and Reagan Hovie took reserve and third, respectively.
Joy said the Junior champion was decided by Enevoldsen’s one additional pass in front of him.
The Hall County Fair will feature 4-H events throughout the weekend, concluding with the livestock auction at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
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