It’s Fair Time in Switzerland County.
It looks different than in past years, but the 2020 Switzerland County 4-H Fair officially kicks off this Monday, July 6th.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Switzerland County Fair — like nearly every other county fair in Indiana — is being held virtually this year.
That means there won’t be events, activities and other programs going on at the fairgrounds, but the Switzerland County Fairboard and the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service here in the county have been working overtime to make sure that the county’s 4-H members, and 4-H in general, continues to be celebrated.
“We’re going to kick off the fair this Monday, July 6th — that will be our opening session,” Kyle Weaver from Purdue Extension said. “Then we’re planning on doing animal shows fairly close to the original schedule.”
Weaver said that there will be a few minor adjustments to the overall show schedule because of the time it will take to get each of the shows ready for viewing, but fair officials hope to stay as close to the original timeline as possible.
“They’re going to be shown on the Purdue Extension Switzerland County Facebook page and YouTube page,” Weaver said. “They should find videos to the opening sessions and all of the livestock shows, and also the Exhibit Hall results.”
Weaver said that all of the animal species this year will be judged virtually.
“What we’re going to do is, this coming Friday (tomorrow, July 3rd) we’re going to send all of the pictures that we get from the 4-Hers, they will be sent to the judges, and they will be judging those off side, virtually; and then they’re going to send the results of that judging, back to us next Monday (July 6th); and then we’ll start uploading it to our Facebook page and our YouTube channel.”
Weaver said that fair staff already has a template that they are going to be putting the photos into, dividing the animals by class and breed.
“That way people will see the results from Class 1, Class 2; these are the division champions and then your Grand Champions in each species; and also for Exhibit Hall,” he said.
Weaver said that everything will be judged by photographs — no videos — and will be done independently off site by judges for each category. In the past the judging has been done in the Exhibit Hall, for example, as each 4-H member checks in their project; and in the show arena as each species has its show and judging.
The fair will continue all through next week.
“We’re going to have a closing session on Friday, and we’ll also have an opening session this Monday,” Weaver said. “Depending on the number of animals that we’ve got, we’re hoping to have the full schedule of shows for the animals on our Facebook page this Monday. It’s hard say we’re going to have the rabbit show on Monday if we have 500 rabbits. You have to have the ability to put those shows together; but yes — we’re planning our schedule, but it may not be the same as it would have been if we were having a physical fair.”
Weaver said that he and staff members Tanya Pike and Hailey Gerster are in the final days of entering projects for this year’s fair, so while they don’t yet have an official number of projects being entered, he said that everyone is feeling pretty good about overall numbers.
The 4-H members are uploading the photos of their projects into an entry system, a database system through Purdue Extension. Mini 4-H members can also enter their projects.
In addition to the project and species judging, other events, such as grandstand events and booths in the commercial building will no happen in 2020 — no Farm Bureau ice cream.
“It will be all virtual,” Weaver said, “But it is a celebration of every kid’s success, so we are very excited about it.”
The tentative schedule for the week includes:
• Monday July 6th: opening ceremonies; tribute videos.
• Tuesday, July 7th: The Cat Show is at 1 p.m.; the Pocket Pet Show is tentatively set for 2 p.m. (pending entries); and the Goat Show will be a 5 p.m.
• Wednesday, July 8th: The Poultry Show will be aired at 9 a.m.; with the Beef Show scheduled for 5 p.m.
• Thursday, July 9th: The Rabbit Show is set for 11 a.m.; while the Swine Show will be aired at 6 p.m.
• Friday, July 10th: The Sheep Show will be at 6 p.m.; along with closing ceremonies.
• There will not be a Dairy Show this year; and the Dog Show will be done using posters, so there will not be an official show.
• The Horse and Pony Show is being rescheduled, with organizers hoping to hold the show at a later date.
Again, all of these times are tentative, with fair officials hoping to stay as close to this schedule as possible.