Brenda Wade Schmidt
Moody County Enterprise
The event that traditionally marks the end of summer has been canceled this year because of the coronavirus that lingers in the state.
For Moody County 4-Hers that means exhibits such as cookies, photography and art projects won’t be shown at the local fair. And livestock from rabbits and chickens to goats, sheep, pigs and cattle will stay home.
Leaders for the 4-H program in the county voted last week to cancel all of the events for Achievement Days and the Moody County Fair. Earlier, they had decided there wouldn’t be a pork loin community supper nor the traditional parade.
It was an extremely difficult decision, leaders of 4-H say.
“I’ll miss the entire fair. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time,” said Rodger Olivier, leader of a dozen kids who make up the Golden Pheasants club. He enjoys seeing the kids exhibit and showing their accomplishments, and the kids look forward every year to the activities, including a pool party to kick off the fair, and meeting up with the friends they know from across the county because of 4-H.
“We’ll miss everything about the fair,” he said.
Leaders made the decision because of guidelines from the South Dakota State University Extension. Guidelines said no more than 15 people could gather in July, a number that jumps to 50 people in August.
Because the static exhibit show involves a lot of touching of exhibits and people getting together in one space, there were obvious reasons that it wouldn’t happen, Olivier said. The livestock shows were the last canceled. The shows could have been Aug. 1 when more people could gather and could have been a show in which the kids had the animals judged outside their trailers instead of in rings, with no spectators allowed.
But a one-day show with all species of animals at their trailers without much shade would have been hard on livestock that would have had to be there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., he said. Several members show in multiple shows.
Leaders decided they could not monitor people from interacting either, he said. “These kids have not seen each other in a while. They’d want to get together with their buddies, and I don’t blame them. It would have been a policing situation that would have been tough.”
The county will have a horse show with Lake County on Aug. 12, and those who participate in 4-H Dress Review and public speaking will have those contests Aug. 11 at the extension office, events which have not been part of the fair in the past.
“It’s just one of those hard decisions to keep everybody safe,” Jen Hayford, 4-H Youth Program Adviser. Any of the 172 members in Moody County can still take projects to the South Dakota State Fair, but details haven’t been completed. “Next year, we’ll try some more things and make it bigger and better,” she said.
“We know that the youth have worked hard this year with their projects and their hard work does not go unnoticed,” Hayford said.
Olivier’s daughters, Chloe, 13, and Sophie, 12, typically participate in the special foods contest, bring 10 exhibits and show five different types of livestock between the two of them.
“I told my daughters, and there were tears shed. They were extremely disappointed. I don’t blame them. There’s been a lot taken away from these kids over the last few months,” he said.
But 4-Hers are tough and he doesn’t think the lack of the fair will hurt the county 4-H program.
“We’re 4-Hers. We’re strong,” he said.
The club members, who have been meeting virtually since February, look forward to the other events of 4-H, too, including community service projects, which they will get back to eventually.
“There’s so much else that goes on in 4-H besides the fair,” Olivier said. “We’re kind of missing those kinds of things.”