For 4-H kids in Eagle County, the shows will go on

This year’s 4-H junior livestock auction will be held online

While the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo has been canceled, one of the fair’s premier events, the junior livestock auction has not.

“Agriculture is unpredictable. It can vary from year to year,” said Jenny Leonetti with CSU Extension in Eagle.

Like so much of the world, this year’s junior livestock auction will move online. An outfit called will handle it. The company just did the massive Houston livestock show.

And while Eagle County’s junior livestock auction isn’t that size, it will feature 153 animals — more than ever, Leonetti said. It’s scheduled for July 25 and will run most of the day.

“We’re thankful we’re able to have it. Many counties are not,” Leonetti said.

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‘The value of hard work’

4-H teaches life skills like adaptability, Leonetti said, especially when life takes some unique twists and turns as it has this year.

“They learn responsibility, dedication, the value of hard work and teamwork, caring for something besides themselves,” Leonetti said.

The kids usually leave their animals at the fairgrounds all week, washing and primping the animals for their shows. This year they won’t. They’ll arrive at the fairgrounds, show their animals, then load them in the trailers and take them home.

“The biggest difference is the camaraderie. The kids don’t get to be together and neither do the buyers,” Leonetti said.

The junior livestock auction will be live. That doesn’t change. But how the kids approach the buyers changes, said Trent Eichler, part of a multi-generational 4-H family.

The Eichlers head to shows almost every weekend, so their animals are used to traveling. The first couple times can be stressful for animals and people. After that, everyone gets used to it. Their pigs, for example, stroll over the back of the truck and appear to wonder why you’re taking so long to let them in the back, Eichler said.

The Eichlers competed in Weld County a couple weeks ago with 1,200 other kids. They were home this past weekend, then next weekend they’re in Eaton, then Loma, then Rawlins, Wyoming.

Eichler loves it because he gets to spend time with his children and grandchildren. His grandchildren love doing it, and they also win their share of events.

“They win a little money and work harder,” Eichler said smiling.

They’re already familiar with both ends of online auctions. They bought a couple pigs from Ohio and other animals from far-flung places.

They’re in it for the long haul. They’re starting to look for next year’s animals, Eichler said.

For the online Junior Livestock Auction the kids submit pictures, video and a short bio. Buyers scroll through all of that day’s animals and bid. If someone tops their bid they’re notified and, just like a live auction, you must decide what to do with that information.

You can also donate to 4-H if you want to support the program, Leonetti said.

Everything will be sent to Mountain Meat Packing in Craig. They’ll deliver the meat by mid-August, frozen and ready for your freezer.

Some animals were bought and registered online last month, some earlier in the spring. Kids with steers have had them since last fall.

“They were committed before the coronavirus. You just bow your neck and go on,” Eichler said.

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