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4-H kids prepare for new livestock event

Deborah Prescott | Daily Press Maggie Johnson demonstrates walking her hog Friday afternoon in her barn. This is the second year Johnson has raised a hog for the U.P. State Fair. The fair was canceled for 2020, and instead Johnson and other exhibitors will show and auction their livestock at the Lori Branstrom Memorial Livestock Expo, Aug. 17 through 22.

ESCANABA — 4-H members who raised animals for the 2020 Upper Peninsula State Fair — which was canceled the end of June due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic — will now be able to show and auction their animals in the Lori Branstrom Memorial Livestock Expo, planned for Aug. 17 through 22.

During a meeting held July 8, the U.P. State Fair Authority decided to hold the expo. The livestock expo will be a modified version of the shows and auction that would normally be held during the Fair. It will feature the Beef-Junior Market, Sheep and Goats-Junior Market, Dairy-Open and Junior Show, Poultry and Rabbits-Junior Show, Swine-Junior Market, and Equine-Junior Show competitions.

“The Lori Branstrom Memorial Livestock Expo was created to give exhibitors who were eligible or pre-registered to participate at the 2020 U.P. State Fair, an opportunity to show their projects after working on them this past year,” said Delta County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vickie Micheau. “The replacement expo exemplifies Lori’s (Branstrom) resolve to always move forward when faced with overwhelming obstacles. She, too, would have been determined to find a way to give exhibitors a show opportunity during the time frame when the U.P. State Fair would have been held.”

For 4-H members, raising an animal is the same whether it will be shown at the fair or an expo.

Nine-year-old Maggie Johnson has raised hogs for two years.

“I chose to raise a hog last year and this year because it’s all in my family,” said Maggie.

Her brothers and other relatives have raised hogs through the years. Raising a hog this year is the same as it was last year, according to Maggie and her mother Dawn Johnson.

“So far there’s been nothing different, except we learned their will no longer be the fair, but the livestock show,” said Dawn. “Maggie still trains the hog in the pen, works in her book, and takes care of the animal.”

The Johnson family was very disappointed when they heard the cancellation of the fair.

“We are very disappointed, because we really enjoy the fair,” said Dawn.

Normally, the family camps at the fair the entire week, but with the fair canceled and transitioning to the livestock expo, the experience will be much shorter this year.

Dawn is unsure about how the whole process will work at this time.

“We’ve been told we can bring in the hog, show it, pen it and sell it,” said Dawn. “We haven’t been told anything for sure.”

Gage Heim has raised an exotic cross hog for the fair this year. This is his second year raising hogs, last year he had a Hereford hog.

“Last year was Gage’s first year so we didn’t go with a show pig. They are more expensive and since we were just starting out we went with a breed that was less expensive,” said Emily Heim, Gage’s mother.

Gage, like Maggie, raised the animal, created his book, and worked with his animal all year in preparation of taking it to the fair. Gage’s didn’t really think canceling the fair was a good idea, though his mother is happy the U.P. Fair Authority approved another way to show and auction animals.

“We are happy they made an alternate plan and are having a livestock event. These kids have spent money and lots of time and dedication on these projects so I’m happy to see they will be able to see the project to the finish,” said Emily.

Knowing there will be a venue for kids to show and auction their animals has been a relief to many, but before the announcement of the livestock expo some 4-H members decided to sell their animals. The livestock owners who are participating are anxious to hear further information regarding procedures about how the event will operate.

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