Junior livestock show reinvents itself: Show moves from the arena to a virtual auction

Royce Mills, 15, will show his hog Black Forest in a virtual
Churchill County Junior Livestock Show and Sale this weekend.

Royce Mills, 15, will show his hog Black Forest in a virtual Churchill County Junior Livestock Show and Sale this weekend.

After enjoying a successful 80th birthday last year, the Churchill County Junior Livestock Show and Sale was looking forward to another banner year with FFA and 4-H students who spend countless hours preparing their animals for a big weekend.

The exhibitors, though, didn’t envision this year’s sale would require using modern technology. Because of the concerns with the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s show and sale has moved to a virtual auction on Saturday and Sunday.

“They’re sad the sale and show is not happening,” said Karen Bogdanowicz, when describing the disappointment the students are showing. “They will miss the camaraderie and friendship, but we’re learning about the virtual side of the show. We’re excited and ready for the challenge.”

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Bogdanowicz, a community based instructor with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, also oversees the 4-H program. Putting together a virtual auction took shape only days ago when Bogdanowicz and the students knew they had to reinvent the annual sale, which has been a tradition for generations of Churchill County exhibitors.

“We were able to put the show together quickly,” Bogdanowicz said.

Last week, exhibitors taped their presentations for the judges. Potential buyers and interested parties will then be able to join the junior livestock show online while the students exhibit both their breeding and market projects. Bogdanowicz said her best estimate breaks down the number of animals to about 45 hogs, 15 goats, 15 lambs, 10 steers and then a number of turkeys and chickens for sale.

Bogdanowicz touted the benefits of buyers purchasing an animal at the sale because they will save money.

Mackenzie Mills, a sixth-grade student at Churchill County Middle School, will be showing chickens in her fifth junior livestock show. Mackenzie said her presentation remains the same by ensuring her chicken and cage will be clean and pristine. She said she’ll miss the immediate judge’s feedback.

“When you show to the judge, you know what they’re talking about,” said Mackenzie, a member of the Churchill County 4-H Hot Wings Poultry Club.

By referring to previous shows and what judges expect, Mackenzie said she has incorporated those tips in the way she displayed her chicken for recording. For example, Mackenzie said when she’s showing, she’ll open the wing toward the judge and discuss certain aspects about her bird.

Not only will she miss the comments from a judge, but she will also miss seeing her friends and the other livestock being shown.

Her brother Royce showed a hog last year for the first time, but now he feels more confident for the 81st annual show.

“I received a lot of feedback which built on top of what I already knew,” he said.

This year, though, Royce knows it will be different.

“I won’t get the feedback, and the judge won’t be able to interact.”

Royce will show a hog for sale this year. In February, the hog named Black Forest weighed about 125 pounds; now, Royce said, his animal has “put on the weight” during the past two months.

Although this will be Royce’s second year showing a hog, he previously showed chickens.


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