Blaine county fair from a new perspective
August 5, 2020
August 2020 just may be the month we have all been anxiously waiting for all year. Schools in Chinook, Harlem, Hays/Lodge Pole, Turner, Zurich and all the rural schools have their reopening plans posted and High School Football, Volleyball and Cross Country got the approval to begin practice. On top of that the Blaine County Fair will take place beginning Sunday, August 9 with interviewing and judging and concluding on Saturday, August 15 with the 4-H/FFA Livestock Sale. The Bear Paw PRCA Rodeo will take place Thursday and Friday with the Doo Wah Riders performing as well. The Do Wah Riders will also perform on Saturday night.
In order to make the 2020 Blaine County Fair possible, the Blaine County Fairboard along with the Blaine County Commissioners formed a thorough plan to ensure that health and safety concerns for all 4-H and FFA participants, judges, family and visitors to the Fair are protected. The plan will meet the current recommendations from the Blaine County Health Department the mandate issued by Governor Bullock with regards to COVID-19. The goal was to give the youth as many opportunities as in the past but as we know this year is anything but normal.
The Blaine County 4-H Fair Proposal has been submitted to the Blaine County Board of Public Health and upon approval will serve as an informative tool for the youth members and their families to understand the specific changes being put in place.
The Blaine County 4-H Fair Proposal includes the following: The animal show schedules have been adjusted to allow for the fewest amount of touch points possible while still adhearing to social distancing protocols.
• The Market sale may be modified to an on-line format if necessary, utilizing video/photos of the sale animal. 4-H/FFA sellers will all be given the option to sell and not show or to show and not sell in an effort to reduce family and general public from attending in person.
• Indoor/Animal Exhibit Judging – Indoor Judging will be static exhibits that will be judged and photographed but not displayed and no public will be allowed to attend. The Animal Exhibits will also be closed to the public and each 4-H member and their immediate family will be all allowed on sight. Immediate family members are encouraged to be limited to only those essential for the safety of the 4-H member and the animal.
• Modified Schedule – To allow for minimal interaction, exhibit judging will be expended to a longer time frame to help ensure smaller groups in the facility at any given time and to create a better environment for sanitizing. Animal shows will be modified to show the groups with the fewest animals first and the most last. Only Swine will be housed overnight to help minimize multi-day gatherings and care of animals on sight. A designated caregiver must be assigned for each swine and instructions communicated to that person at a six-foot distance with regards to care instruction, feed and water troughs. Once the Swine is turned over to the care provider the member will not return to care for or see their animal. Animals will be weighed upon arrival at the Blaine County Fairground, then shown and depart the property.
• Shipping – Swine will be loaded with a minimum crew by species superintendent and agent. Members and family shall not be present unless they are a member of said crew. Lamb and beef will be dropped off at predetermined times and locations ensuring all distance protocols are being followed. Late animals will not be loaded. Trailers will then depart for Bear Paw Meats in Chinook or Hi-line Packing in Malta.
The revamped Fair will look completely different and many events have been dropped. This list includes the 4-H Chuckwagon all food vendors, the carnival and midway exhibits and shows. Public spectators to the shows will be limited to family only and all shows will be available for viewing on Facebook. In person carcass evaluation will also not take place.
There will be two automated hand sanitizer stations set up in high traffic areas throughout each show. In addition, hand sanitizer will be available at the tables. Sanitizing wipes will be available on a limited supply and judges will take priority as they have the highest number of contact points. Restroom use is encouraged to be kept to a minimum. Any sharing of equipment, microphones etc. will need to be sanitized first before passing them on. Common surfaces will be sanitized regularly, and portable stations will be added for some shows. Bleachers will be set up to meet social distancing requirements. Announcements will be made regularly to remind folks to follow these guidelines.
Guidelines covering these implementations will be delivered to all exhibitors and their families prior to the start of the fair. Fairgoers will receive one warning regarding these rules, a second violation will result in removal from the fairgrounds for the remainder of the fair. Registration will take place through mail or electronic methods prior to the fair and one-way pedestrian patterns will be maintained when possible. There will be no common areas, picnic areas and no food or beverages will be provided. High risk individuals are encouraged to follow the governors stay at home directive and vulnerable participants do so at their own risk and are advised to where masks to participate at this event.
Symptom screeners have been sent and members/family are asked to refrain from attending if they have any or they have a temperature at home prior to departure above 100.4. The MSU Extension and Blaine County Health will have the contact information and addresses for those involved. The Fair will also utilize cameras and video to document the events and provide contact information to
Blaine County Health. Buyers will be registered, and that information will be forwarded to the Extension and Health Departments as well. Signs will be posted and anyone in attendance not registered should be able to be identified through association by photo and video documentation. Judges will not shake ands with participants and masks will be encouraged for judges. Masks will be mandatory for staff and judges when social distancing is not possible.
With all the changes being outlined in the proposal it means that riles from the Blaine County Fair book no longer apply due to time constraints and high priority focus areas. Members and their families will need to trust that the MSU Blaine County Extension will coordinate as needed with volunteers serving as leaders to apply rules both written and unwritten as needed in a manner that is consistent and equitable.
The fair facilities will be arranged very differently and as such member (4-H/FFA) and their families will not be on sight to help set up. The Fair will hold a video prior to the start of the fair to verify the understanding of new regulations in place. Each species superintendent will select their own minimal crew to set up their animal pens and arena as needed for specific livestock.
Changes will be noticed right away with Interview Judging taking place on Sunday, August 9 in the commercial building from 1:00 p.m. -m 5:00 p.m. The small animal show will also take place at 5:00 p.m. Sunday. For full schedule contact the Blaine County Fair or the MSU Extension. The Horse Show will take place on Tuesday, August 11. 19 Member horses are registered. Trailers will be parked with 25 feet between them. Members, parents and their families will sit in the bleachers and social distancing will be adhered to whether sitting or on foot.
Weigh in for Market Lambs and market beef will take place on Wednesday, August 12 from 5-7:00 p.m. Trailers will enter from the south and member and one adult can exit the vehicle to assist with the animal. Market Beef entries are required to have all paperwork filled out and ready for the brand inspector. Weights will be recorded and posted to the Blaine County MSU Extension Facebook page. For additional rules and procedures check with the Extension Office.
The Market Beef Show will begin at 8:00 a.m. Thursday, August 13. The Lamb Show ill follow at 1:00 p.m. All social distancing and attendance rules previously stated will be strictly adhered to. All Market Swine must be penned by 4:00 p.m. Swine barn will be closed to all participants from 4-5:30 p.m. while a selected crew weighs each animal. Weights will be posted on each pen as well as in the barn. Members and one adult will be limited to enter the barn and access will be controlled to ensure proper numbers are inside. The Swine Show will take place on Friday, August 14 with all previously stated protocols in place. The Round Robin Showmanship Contest will take place at 3:00 p.m. Friday afternoon.
The 2020 Blaine County 4-H/FFA Fair will conclude Saturday, August 15 with the Youth Livestock Show getting underway at 9:00 a.m. Organizers have put forth out a very detailed plan to ensure the safety of all members, their parents and family. All social distancing and sanitizing practices will be strictly enforced to ensure the safety of everyone involved include Fair Staff, Associates and Judges and necessary help. To have the Fair is better for everyone, even with these added restrictions than to see the kids go without.