Ava and Jilian Schoenfeld of the Lake Stay 4-H Club know a thing or two about livestock shows. Their family shows horses, beef, pigs, rabbits and goats not just in 4-H, but at other state, regional and even some National shows. They also bring lots of general 4-H exhibits to the County Fair. So, in 2020, when many shows were cancelled due to the pandemic, the girls were a little unsure of their plans with their livestock.
According to Ava, the family wasn’t really sure how to make a plan for their animals, because they weren’t sure what shows they were ‘aiming’ for. Particularly with market animals, 4-Hers plan for that animal to be at it’s ideal weight for the biggest show of the year. When showing a 4-H market animal, that show is likely the Minnesota State Fair. But, Jili said, there wasn’t a lot of change in the daily care of their animals, and they still attended some shows that popped up through the summer.
Both girls noted some positives to last year’s 4-H Livestock showcase. Jili appreciated that 4-H was still able to offer an in-person, COVID-safe livestock show. But, as with anything, there were also some challenges. Like many 4-H livestock families, shows are a multi-generational event for the Schoenfelds. Because of restrictions to last year’s event, grandparents and other spectators weren’t able to attend 4-H livestock shows. And, while livestreaming was an option, it isn’t always easy for people to connect, hear, and stay engaged in the show while watching online. That said, 4-H will be streaming shows again this year as an option for those who aren’t able to or aren’t comfortable with attending in person.
4-H is focused on youth learning, and fewer shows to attend meant that the Schoenfeld girls weren’t able to hear the perspectives of many different judges and apply that knowledge to their future experiences. Ava did say, however, that virtual shows like the Minnesota State 4-H Livestock Showcase allowed them to learn from judges that they wouldn’t normally have at an in-person show.
The girls are looking forward to a more normal fair experience this year, with spectators and more things to do every day. Like all Lincoln County 4-H Livestock members, the Schoenfelds have been working hard with their 4-H Livestock projects to get them ready for this year’s Lincoln County Fair. They’ve been attending shows, clinics and camps to get experience and gain knowledge. They’re looking forward to sharing that knowledge with fairgoers this year. When you’re at the Lincoln County Fair, stop by and talk with 4-H members about their livestock projects - their knowledge and passion for their projects is impressive!