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4-H goes virtual

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | August 27, 2020 1:00 AM

Even COVID-19 can't knock the Kootenai-Shoshone 4-H Program down as they gear up for their annual stock sale this weekend at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds.

While the sale will look a little different this year, with most public participation watching online, 4-Hers from across North Idaho want to encourage the community to tune in.

"Everybody is excited about being here. They are all appreciative and thankful that we worked with the Fairgrounds and Kootenai Health so we could make this happen," said Sharla Wilson, Kootenai County 4-H extension educator and assistant professor with the University of Idaho.

Wilson said the virtual program through liveauctions.tv offers an option for a broader audience to watch, bid, or buy from the sale safely. She hopes that it will help families that aren't in the local vicinity to support their 4-H seller.

"I'm excited about the online option. This is the first year trying it, but we'd thought about it before COVID was considered," Wilson said. "I anticipate more buyers than we've had before. I suspect a great turnout of local and extensive support."

If the virtual bidding is successful, Wilson says it will be something offered for more 4-H sales in the future.

Wilson said that while organizers and participants miss the full-blown fair with rides and food, this relaxed showing has directed the importance of the event back to the 4-H family.

"The 4-H program has built a whole community around us," Wilson said. "We have our adult volunteers who lead our programs; obviously, we have our 4-H kids and the parents. It becomes a very supportive community and feels like family."

To spread out some of the usual show and sale events, 4-H show judgings have been carried out throughout the week. Evaluating animals for the best in show or market quality awards and rewarding kids for their hard work is a crucial part of what the 4-H program is about.

Beckett Larson of Dalton Gardens showed off his 80-pound goat, Danny, in Wednesday’s judging at the Fairgrounds. Danny was a bit uncooperative and difficult to control as he jumped several times, forcing Larson to hold him tight.

“It sucked,” Larson said afterward when asked about their performance.

Still, while disappointed that the North Idaho State Fair was canceled, the 4-H Livestock Sale is Saturday and Larson hopes Danny fetches a good price.

“I’m glad they’re still having it,” he said.

Dillon Kacso of Athol was hosing down his cow, Rebel, in preparation for the judging in the afternoon. He's confident Rebel will receive a lot of attention from buyers on Saturday, but like Larson, he was disappointed the rides, food, booths, and other activities were canceled.

“It’s great we have the sale. It sucks that we don’t get the whole fair,” he said.

This year's 4-H shows are predominantly closed to the public. However the Small Animal Sale and the Livestock Sale at the Findlay Rodeo Arena are open to exhibitors, entries, and buyers. Buyers who would like to attend physically can call 208-446-1680 or register on-site the day of.

For many of these 4-H members, the projects have been a part of their daily life since last September. With more than 700 kids in the Kootenai-Shoshone 4-H program, more than 400 are showing off their final products.

"I've been amazed at how well our 4-H kids have worked through what has been thrown at them," Wilson said. "It's important to them and us."

The Small Animal Sale for market rabbits and poultry starts at 6 p.m. Friday, and the Livestock Sale for large animals such as swine, lambs, goats, and beef will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday.