IONIA, Mich. — The Ionia Free Fair's 4-H auction is taking place virtually due to COVID-19 canceling the fair entirely and foregoing its original plans.
The fair was initially scheduled to take place the week of July 19th. When it was canceled, organizers began making new arrangements that would bring together as few people as possible but still allow 4-H participants to show and sell their animals.
Organizers arranged for participants to bring their animals in for a few hours earlier this week. The large animals were weighed and then shown. Animals were not allowed to stay on the fair grounds overnight, and people were only allowed on the grounds for a few hours.
"It was very different. Normally when you go to the fair, you’re there for the whole week. Your animals stay all week. This year, we were there maybe 5 hours. So we got there in the morning," said Riley Leonard, who showed this year's Grand Champion Market Lamb. "The mask situation was different. We had to show with masks on. Everybody made the best of it. It was still super fun show."
Only a few family members were allowed near the showing area to see the hard work come together.
"I know that there were a lot of kids that were disappointed over the year in terms of it wasn’t as involved as it normally would have been," said Jason Griffith, Chairman of Meat and Animal Sale Committee for the Ionia Free Fair.
The online auction started Wednesday and will continue through Thursday at 8 p.m.
Once the highest bidder is decided at the auction's conclusion, the 4-H participants will arrange where the animal will go with the buyer.
If you would like to bid, you can click here. If you would like to donate to any 4-H members, you can click the 'add-on' tab on that child's profile.