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King City
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July 6, 2022

Salinas Valley Fair Kick-Off features first virtual auction

Drive-thru barbecue replaces in-person celebration at fairgrounds

KING CITY — This year’s Salinas Valley Fair Kick-Off was recently held with virtual auctions and a drive-thru barbecue at the fairgrounds in King City. 

The new format for the April 16-17 event was a Covid-era adjustment to host the normally packed in-person celebration, and a slow return to normalcy after last year’s Kick-Off was canceled a month into the pandemic closures.

Cooks with barbecues fired up numerous grills across the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds for the estimated 900 meal tickets sold. Another 100 meals were cooked up for the crew of the mass Covid-19 vaccination clinic, also operating at the fairgrounds at the same time. 

The main two groups at the grills were the King City Young Farmers and Knights of Columbus.

“People want to be able to do the traditional fair events, but with the pandemic we can only do certain things,” said Oscar Avalos, a director on the Salinas Valley Fair Board. 

Avalos said the event, spread out over several days, with the main events being a virtual auction last Friday and the Saturday drive-thru meal distribution.

Members from King City Young Farmers and Knights of Columbus place chicken on a hot grill for Saturday’s drive-thru barbecue at Salinas Valley Fairgrounds. (Sean Roney/Staff)

“It was our first virtual auction we’ve ever done,” Avalos said.

The total sales from the virtual auction were approximately more than $30,000 from 20 items. In prior years, 50 items could be auctioned off in person and the sales would bring in more than $100,000. 

Avalos noted the 2021 virtual offering was a fraction of normal years, but said the board felt for a first-time virtual event, it went well.

While some items could be bid on throughout the week leading up to the April 17 Kick-Off, the main auction was a virtual broadcast of a live auction. 

Spectators could watch and bid from home through their computers for the auction experience.

Salinas Valley Fair 2021 has been affected by pandemic shutdown guidelines, with some components, such as the livestock auction, going virtual. However, Avalos said plans are in the works for a fair popup event to give fair-goers a bit of the fair experience. 

“Our traditional fair vendors are going to come in,” Avalos said, explaining it would work similar to the food vendor popups that have taken place through the past year, plus some entertainment. “We’re going to do drive-in movies on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of Fair Week.”

Avalos said the board thanked the community for their support and help.

“Without the community support, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” Avalos said.

Food preparation teams work on a constant flow of barbecue chicken as they prepare an estimated 1,000 meals inside the Pavilion Hall kitchen on April 17. (Sean Roney/Staff)
Sean Roney
Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.
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