PASO ROBLES – When California Mid-State Fair announced it was not happening in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attention turned to the hundreds of young people who raised animals to be shown and sold at the Junior Livestock Auction.

Officials worked behind the scenes and are doing what many other fairs did, have the show and auction online. Going virtual keeps everyone safe and allows participants to complete their projects.

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The auction process will begin on July 18 when exhibitors will have a four-day period to submit videos of them showing their animals. The videos will be sent to the same judges that were going to judge the in-person show, and they will decide champions.

“Exhibitors will submit videos that will be between 60 and 90 seconds long and will be in their full uniforms just like they normally would if they were at the fair,” Mid-State Fair Special Programs Coordinator Hailey Rose Switzer told The Paso Robles Press. “Then what will happen is all the exhibitors are going to sell their animals online. Buyers can go to midstatefair.com and click on the livestock tab and will be able to see all the information on the sale.”

Once the videos are submitted and judged, the auction will turn into basically eBay. Each buyer will have opportunities to bid on any of the animals in a silent-auction style over four days, July 22 through July 25. The auction is set to end at 2 p.m. on July 25, but with a slight twist, a horse-race style finish. What this means is that the sale will not close until every person has finished bidding. If someone were to place a bid at 1:59 p.m., the auction will extend a few more minutes giving all interested parties an opportunity.

“Everyone can buy in a silent auction, and there will be a picture of the exhibitor, and they can place a bid on it, and we are going to continue to offer all the options we always do,” Switzer said. “Buyers can get their animals back custom cut, consign them for resale, or come pick them up right from the fairgrounds.”

The Mid-State fair states that the number of market hogs is a bit down this year, but overall, even with the pandemic, the number of participants is about the same as years past. While not all might be fans of the online auction, it appears that this style can increase profits for the young sellers.

“I have been through five virtual sales, and the other four shows I have worked have all had higher averages than the previous year,” Switzer stated. “We are hopeful that trend will stay steady with us at Mid-state, but we don’t know what will happen.”

The online silent auction could help in several ways, chief among them giving bidders more than a lightning flash of time to decide on their limit, including reducing the stress for first-time buyers as well as catering to the older generations who would like to participate but don’t feel safe in public.

For those wanting more information, go to midstatefair.com or read the buyers guide here.

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