Finney County Fair to have different look

Brad Nading
Bucket calf participants make their way around the show arena during last year's Finney County Fair. The full bleacher seating on 2019 for fair's livestock events will be limited in 2020 because of the COVI-19 pandemic, with only immediate family members being able to watch the competitions in person.

This year’s Finney County Fair will have a different look because of the COVID-19 pandemic, being an exhibitors-only fair.

The Finney County Fair Board voted to have the fair in this manner for 2020 with no special contests, meals or entertainment. The other modification for this year is it will be closed to the public.

The fair is scheduled to be held July 20-26 at the Finney County Fairgrounds.

“4-Hers and open class participants will bring their projects to be judged, then take them home after the judging,” said Jennifer LaSalle, Finney County Extension’s family and community wellness and 4-H agent. “We won’t be showcasing them at the fairgrounds this year.”

Although the entries will not be showcased at the fairgrounds as in the past, entries will be showcased virtually, with pictures and results from the various events and categories. The showcases can be found on the Facebook pages of the Finney County K-State Research, the Finney County Fair and the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“At first, it was pretty chaotic, but we got everything figured out,” LaSalle said. “I think it’s going good. We had our fashion revue and clothing construction judging on Tuesday and it went pretty well.”

To make the different fair more manageable, competitors are being limited on the amount of entries this year.

While in the past the fashion revue had 4-Hers model two garments, this year they were limited to one. In the food, photography and visual arts divisions, participants are only allowed to enter three per project in each division.

All entries, except livestock, will be judged on Monday, instead of spread out through several days. The livestock divisions will continue from Tuesday through Friday, as in the past. Those showing in the livestock divisions will show their animals, then take them home. There will be no stalls available for animals to be kept in throughout the week.

“Livestock judging has stayed the same as last year,” LaSalle said. “They (4-Hers) buy their livestock early enough, before any of this started coming on (COVID-19). They had it and want to compete with them.”

The grandstands of the fairgrounds’ show arena will not be filled for the livestock categories as in the past. Only immediate family members will be allowed to attend the livestock contests, to practice social distancing. The livestock events can be watched, however, as each of the categories is planned to be livestreamed on the Finney County Fair’s Facebook page.

Saturday’s annual Premium Auction will take on a unique look too. Instead of everyone gathering and filling the show arena stands for the auction, this year’s event will be held in the exhibition building with no animals.

A photograph of the 4-Her and their animal will be projected on a large screen as the 4-Her stands by it. Buyers will bid as they always have at the event.

As far as the Kansas State Fair being canceled, LaSalle said she believes there will be some kind of showcase and competition for 4-H and FFA members, but it’s still in the works. The same goes for livestock competitors.

LaSalle said there will be hand sanitizing and some hand washing stations throughout the fairgrounds. Exhibitors are encouraged to observe social distancing and wearing face masks is by choice, with no mandate for wearing them.

The normal “pre-fair week” events occurred this week, with the fashion revue and clothing construction judging taking place Tuesday and the demonstrations and illustrated talks being held on Friday. Saturday’s events include the horse show, for 4-H and open class, beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, and the pet show. The 4-H pet show begins at 2:30 p.m. and the open show begins at 4:30 p.m.