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Santa Barbara County Fair to hold virtual livestock auction this week

SB County Fair livestock
Local agriculture students show sheep at the 2019 Santa Barbara County Fair (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The 2020 Santa Barbara County Fair will not be held this year, but at least one major part of it will take place in some capacity.

The Junior Livestock Auction will held this coming weekend in a virtual format.

"With this, it's giving us an alternative, but still being able to get that buyer and seller together. Get these kids their animals sold for them," said Santa Maria Fairpark Foundation President Rebecca Barks. "We have all the entries in and we're now working with buyers, and we've got several buyers that have come in. Buyers from previous years and new buyers."

During the auction, livestock will be sold online through an online fair management program called ShoWorks.

Beforehand, buyers will be able to view pictures and descriptions of the animals on the website.

"Friday, they'll go live on the website where they will see the exhibitor with their animal, and there's going to be a bid platform, and then there's going to be a live aspect to it," said Barks. "We will have an actual auctioneer for about a minute to a minute and a half, go live for that specific lot number in that order to sell that, to increase any of the bidding on it."

Barks said about 200 exhibitors have signed up for the auction. She added about 800 agriculture students typically take part in the fair.

Even though the fair has been canceled due to COVID-19, students have still been raising animals.

Many of them have have already lined up buyers privately and will not participate in the virtual auction.

Barks added for the exhibitors that are taking part, they are not guaranteed their animal will be sold.

“They are not," said Barks. "They’re guaranteed if somebody does buy it, that there’s a minimum that it won’t sell for under a certain amount, and if there is no bids on it, we have worked with a few businesses that are willing to come in, and say hey, we will, we may purchase up these animals that don’t have beds, or you get to keep the animal and try to figure out another outlet for it”

If an animal is sold, the minimum amount is $1,800 for replacement heifers, $1,500 for steers, $500 for swine and sheep and $400 for goats.

"The other thing that is nice is we’re doing something called an add on," said Barks. "If an exhibitor chooses to sell their animal, and somebody purchases that animal, (relatives) and businesses that just want to help support, they can come in and add something too to that particular lot, and that money will also be a tax write off more than just like it was at the county fair.”

Barks emphasized the goal of the virtual auction is to not only allow exhibitors to chance to recoup their costs for this year, but also hopefully pocket some as well to plan for next year.

"We are very hopeful that we have some things going on that the fair will be continuing into 2021, and we're looking forward to this virtual auction," said Barks. "It's a lot of work. It's a really quick timeframe, but the community and the kids and everybody has been very supportive and patient."

While the deadline for exhibitors passed over the weekend, buyers can still register.

So far, about 60 have signed up, but more are encouraged to participate.

The auction will be held June 19-21.

For more information on the 2020 Santa Barbara County Fair Junior Livestock Virtual Auction, click here.

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Dave Alley

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