All of the livestock competitions at this year’s Pennsylvania Farm Show have gone virtual or been canceled — except for one.
The youth market steer show will proceed with live animals, but it will not be business as usual as COVID-19 cases in the state surge past 375,000.
The steers will be exhibited, without their youthful owners on the halter, Jan. 8-9 at New Holland Sales Stables in Lancaster County. The event would normally take place at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.
The sale, on the second day of the steer show, will be open only to authorized bidders, who must wear masks and keep physically distanced from others, said Shannon Powers, press secretary for the Ag Department.
Neither show nor sale will be open to the public or the media. There will be no video of the event, but Powers said the results will be posted on the Farm Show website, farmshow.pa.gov
The show will be much reduced — only 24 steers will be shown, compared to the 400 animals from five species sold at last year’s junior livestock sale.
But it’s notable that the show is going on at all.
When he announced in August that the Farm Show would be going virtual, Ag Secretary Russell Redding said livestock competitions would not require the purchase of an animal.
The decision was made to respect families’ finances, Redding said.
The state made an exception for junior steers because the entry deadline had already passed, and participants had already bought their cattle, by the time the show was changed to a virtual format, Powers said.
Despite the drastic changes, Powers said there will still be plenty of ways for people to compete and experience agriculture at this year’s Farm Show, which runs Jan. 9-16.
Christmas trees, wool, corn, mushrooms and wine are among the commodities that will hold competitions this year. In many cases, entries were submitted in November for judging.
No premiums will be given this year, except in the junior market steer show. That decision was based on a survey of previous participants conducted before the show went virtual, Powers said.
Winners will still receive ribbons and will be recognized through the Farm Show’s website, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Some of the beloved noncompetitive features of the Farm Show will be going virtual.
Livestreams of ducks from Joe Jurgielewicz & Son and an active beehive from the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association will run 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the week of Farm Show.
Tractor pulls, family fun entertainment and PA Preferred cooking demonstrations may be held at the Farm Show Complex.
But plans for the Farm Show, including the junior steer show, could change as coronavirus cases rise.
“The health and safety of our youth, bidders and their communities is the No. 1 priority,” Powers said.