OGDEN — Had the Junior Livestock Show, a central element of the Weber County Fair each year, been axed this go-round due to COVID-19 jitters, there would have been a lot of long faces.

“It would’ve been disappointing not only for the kids but for the ag community in general in Weber County,” said Cassie Joiner, an agriculture teacher and Future Farmers of America advisor at Fremont High School.

But though several other elements of the fair have been scaled back, the Junior Livestock Show is going on again, and kids were busy at the fairgrounds on Tuesday, registering their animals and preparing for the formal start of events on Wednesday. “We’re just grateful. This is something the kids look forward to every year. ... It helps their savings account. It teaches them discipline,” said Michelle Loveland of Uintah, on hand with three of her kids, all taking part.

Weber County Commissioner Jim Harvey said one of the factors weighing in the decision to keep the Junior Livestock Show is the deep agricultural heritage of the county. The show “helps perpetuate that story so we wanted to make sure it continued,” he said.

And though several traditional fair elements didn’t make the cut this year to guard against the spread of COVID-19, like the demolition derby, the commercial booths and the exhibition area, county officials made sure there would be a few events. They’ve dubbed this year’s version the Weber County Unfair given the COVID-19 kick, and here’s a look at what to expect when the action gets going:

A rodeo is scheduled for Wednesday at the Outdoor Stadium starting at 7 p.m.

  • Tickets are $10 for those 13 and older, $5 for ages 3-12 and free for kids two and under.
  • Indian Relay Races are schedule for Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. at the fairgrounds racetrack.

Tickets

  • are $12 for those 13 and older, $6 for ages 3-12 and free for kids two and under. The races feature Native Americans displaying their horsemanship skills.
  • A “truck bed concert” featuring country singer

will be held in a large fairgrounds parking lot on Saturday starting at 8 p.m.

will be the opening act. Premium

  • In the front of the concert area are $200 per vehicle, while general admission will be $125 per auto. Spectators will park in the area, setting up chairs in the beds of their trucks — hence the name — or on the ground around their vehicles.

Masks are mandatory, according to the Weber County Fair website, and signage already on the grounds as of Tuesday prods those on hands to use face coverings.

As for the Junior Livestock Show, judging of the varied critters starts on Wednesday. Events are free (and will also be streamed via the Weber County Facebook page, according to Cendra Ipsen, superintendent of the auction) and will he held in the Golden Spike Arena. Usually, they’re in the Auction Arena, but the Golden Spike Arena is larger and better able to accommodate social distancing to guard against the coronavirus. Here’s a rundown of activities:

Wednesday: Lamb judging will start at 9 a.m. Bucket calf judging begins at 5 p.m.

Thursday: The hog show begins at 9 a.m.

Friday: Steer judging starts at 9 a.m., followed by heifer judging. The goat show begins at 2 p.m.

Saturday: The auction of the animals, the culmination of events, starts at 10 a.m. It’s a big money raiser for the participating kids and has generated $600,000 in recent years.

‘IT’S FUN’ Organizers assigned times for Junior Livestock Show participants to arrive on Tuesday to register their animals, a bid to keep crowds from getting overwhelming, thus safeguarding against COVID-19’s spread. Still, the throng around the scale grew thick at times, some wearing masks, some without.

Whit Christensen, an 11-year-old from South Ogden, was there, registering his lamb. “I like doing it because it’s fun and you can do new things,” he explained.

Cole Messerly was there with his two kids, Colton, 12, and Hadlee, 9, helping them prepare the pen holding their lambs. He knows the 2020 installment of the fair had been up in the air due to COVID-19 but said his children would have raised the animals regardless of what organizers decided.

“It teaches the kids responsibility, no matter what,” he said.

Whatever the case, Joiner, helping out at the scale, is glad the Junior Livestock Show made the grade for 2020. She grew up raising animals and lauds the activity as a way of teaching kids responsibility, how to care for something other than themselves.

“This is huge,” she said.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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