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Livestock show, auction event moves forward

ESCANABA — While the U.P. State Fair will not be taking place next week, one major component of the event will be held with some changes. The Lori Branstrom Memorial Livestock Expo will begin on Thursday, Aug. 20 and continue through Saturday, Aug. 22.

Delta County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vickie Micheau said plans for livestock bidding were an important part of work done earlier this year on a COVID-19 preparedness plan for the U.P. State Fair.

“The Junior Market Livestock Shows and Auction were given careful consideration because of the public interest and large number of attendees,” she said.

On June 30, it was officially announced that the U.P. State Fair would not be held in 2020. The announcement also stated planning was still moving forward on a livestock exhibition.

“When it became apparent that the fair would be postponed to 2021, we explored all online options to help salvage the emotional and financial investment the young exhibitors made in their animal projects,” Micheau said.

These efforts ultimately resulted in the development of the livestock expo, which was named in honor of Lori Branstrom after she died from pancreatic cancer on Feb. 14, 2020. Micheau said Branstrom played an important role in the history of livestock exhibitions at the U.P. State Fair — she first got involved with the fair as a 4-H leader when her young children began showing animals there.

“Her involvement continued when she took on the responsibilities of the Swine Barn Assistant Superintendent and when she became part of the U.P. State Fair management team as the Exhibitors Manager,” Micheau said.

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, exhibitors will start bringing their animals to the fairgrounds for the livestock expo. According to Micheau, the Junior Shows will take place beginning Thursday at 8 a.m. with the Beef Show, followed by the Sheep Show at 10 a.m. Friday’s judging starts at 9 a.m. with the Swine Show and ends at 3 p.m. with the Goat Show.

Judges have been secured for these shows and will be present at the fairgrounds next week.

Not all of the shows originally set to take place during the livestock expo will be held as planned.

“Many of the open shows (animals that are not sold at the auction) for dairy, poultry, rabbits and horses were canceled due to lower-than-expected entries,” Micheau said.

On Saturday, Aug. 22, the 2020 Livestock Auction will get started at 11 a.m. The event will begin with auctions for Grand and Reserve Champion animals, which will be followed by auctions for the remaining steers, lambs, hogs and goats.

So the auction can comply with statewide executive orders and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, it has been moved to the fairgrounds’ grandstand. This should allow participants to practice proper social distancing.

Bidder numbers will be available under the grandstand Saturday starting at 9 a.m. Buyers will be able to view animals in the barns from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. that day.

Successful bidders should pay for their purchases in the designated area under the grandstand. They can pay by cash, check, credit card or debit card, but the latter two options will include a 3 percent transaction fee. If multiple buyers purchase one or more animals together, only one of them should pay at this time.

For the first time this year, online bidding will be available to buyers on MichiganAuction.com in partnership with Leist Auctioneers and Northern Michigan Livestock. Bidders will be able to view an online catalog and bid by the pound before and during Saturday’s auction. People choosing to bid online are asked to pay via credit card.

Precautions related to COVID-19 that will be implemented at the livestock expo will include:

– Limitations on the number of exhibitors present in the show ring at the same time

– Smaller line-ups and gatherings of animals before classes

– Sanitization of microphones between speakers

– Daily symptom/health assessments of exhibitors

Micheau noted other activities are set to take place at the fairgrounds next week along with the livestock expo.

“Skerbeck Entertainment Group will have a fair food drive-thru that will be open to the public, and plans are underway to hold a drive-in movie event,” she said.

For more information, find “UP State Fairgrounds” on Facebook.

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