Early Thursday morning, April 3, 2020, the San Bernardino County Fair Board announced via Facebook that the 2020 San Bernardino County Fair has been canceled. The Fair Board did not make this decision lightly and made it in the best interest of the safety and well-being of High Desert residents and in accordance with the “stay-at-home” guidelines ordered by Governor Newsom. “The board, CEO, and Team of the Fair are devastated that we are unable to host the annual SBC Fair, an event that brings happiness and joy to our community each and every year,” said Board President Joe Zuccaro. “For the protection and well-being of families in our county, we came to the decision that hosting a fair at this time would not be prudent.” The annual fair brings much-needed income to the Mojave River Valley, provides marketing opportunities to many local businesses, and showcases the many talented adults and youth of the County who exhibit each year.
This is devastating news for over 200 youths, many who are 4H and FFA kids who have been working on projects to exhibit at the fair from baking and food items, photography, and sewing to Ag Mechanics, and livestock animals. Many of these projects started several months ago in preparation for the fair. And for those kids with livestock projects, the fair culminates with the Junior Livestock Auction where their animals are auctioned off to the highest bidder. These young entrepreneurs purchase, raise and sell their animals through this auction in hopes of making enough money to not only cover their project costs but buy their project animal for the next years fair or to put towards college.
The level of devotion these kids have for their projects is astounding. After given the news of having to finish their school year from home, the followup question from many of these kids and parents was, “Yes, but what about the fair?” For many of these kids, the fair is the event of the year. They look forward to reconnecting with “fair” friends, showing off their projects to peers and the public, and, most importantly, marketing their animals to potential auction bidders and buyers. It is a time when many business owners are wondering how they are going to make it through this economic crisis. So too, are several youths from 9 years to 18 years old, all wondering how they are going to recoup their costs if the fair is canceled, many from the Tri-Community
However, all is not lost. The livestock department has come up with an alternative plan. They will be moving forward with a virtual livestock show and online auction. Details are still being worked out, but most likely, kids will submit, from home, a bio introducing themselves and their project animal in a video. Based on this video, the project animals will then be virtually judged. Animals would be placed, and a sale order determined for the online auction. Bidders will be able to view these videos and bid online for the animals they wish to purchase, much like a typical auction. The difference is bidders and kids would remain socially distant.
Information will be forthcoming as details are worked out, and plans are set. The livestock department is asking that kids stay in contact with their 4H leaders and FFA advisors and to keep watching the SBC Fair Facebook page and website.