SALINAS VALLEY — A total of $981,000 was raised for 415 animals at this year’s Salinas Valley Fair junior livestock auction, which took place Saturday before a small crowd of buyers as well as an online component at the fairgrounds in King City.
Still photos were displayed of each animal as well as information about the student who raised it and which 4-H or FFA club they belonged to during the May 8 event.
This year’s format was a hybrid between the traditional, in-person auction of pre-pandemic years and the fully virtual auction held last year, when health restrictions prevented any live auction components.
Auctioneers from Overland Stockyard oversaw the bidding process. Last year almost 900 were signed up and 650 animals sold, which itself was a decrease from previous years. This year, the numbers again declined.
“This year with not knowing if we were going to have a fair, some kids chose not to do it,” said Cody Bassetti, chair of the SVF auction committee. He noted the bids varied, some lower than normal and some higher. “Considering the situation, we did OK.”
The altered format also allowed for custom harvests this year, unlike last year where the animals were processed before the time of auction. The judging will take place as close to a traditional fair year as possible, having begun with swine on Tuesday and extending through Saturday when sheep, goats and beef will be judged.
Bassetti said grand champions and reserves will be determined, and add-ons will be open for two more weeks.
“If anybody wants to add on to the grand champion, they have the opportunity to do that,” he said.
The Heritage Animal did not go through the fair’s sale process, Bassetti explained, but add-ons were allowed for it. Donations were secured totaling $190,000.
“That was on par with what we’ve usually done year after year,” he said.
With pandemic health guidelines remaining in place, even though there will be a live exhibition at the fairgrounds, exhibitors will only be able to bring one person with them. Bassetti explained this will mean a show floor much less full than normal. Once the youth finish showing their animal, they go home and the animals head off to the butcher.
“That will be more like the normal fair,” Bassetti said.
This year, there is no carnival nor a traditional fair setup, but Bassetti said organizers have put together as close to a fair experience as they could, not only for the youth raising animals, but also for the community.
Movie nights and fair food popups at the fairgrounds entrance take place this week.