PUEBLO COUNTY — 2020 is the year of change and even though we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, News5 continues to track how businesses, people, and events are finding new ways to stay afloat and rebound.
One of Pueblo’s premier events, the Colorado State Fair, officially kicks off on Friday.
It’s going to be unlike any other year though. There will be no carnival and no vendors, but organizers are doing what they can to bring a sense of normalcy for the 4H and FFA kids who work hard all year to make state.
The Pueblo County, CSU Extension, 4H kids work hard each and every year. They tackle hands-on projects from health to science, to agriculture and art, and more.
“I’ve gotten a lot of experience in shooting sports. I became a leader,” Grace Corcoran said.
“I’ve learned the true meaning of hard work,” Maya Bigler said.
“I’ve become more confident with myself and learned more skills to use in my day to day life,” Alaina Shearar said.
There are more than 330 kids in Pueblo County 4H and they learn from 100 adult registered volunteers.
Jennifer Johnston is a Youth Development Agent, “Kids can do dog training. They can do livestock. Raise animals. Rocketry, science, STEM, clothing, cake decorating, a whole slew of projects.”
The year-long projects culminate with the grand finale at the state fair. Like most things, the pandemic has thrown a wrench in their plans.
“It’s been a little crazy,” Shearar said.
“We did get a county fair shoot, we had to wear masks,” Corcoran said.
They’ve been doing a lot of things virtually, which Johnston said was definitely an adjustment, “There was no more face-to-face. With 4H you could not get the kids in a room and that’s really unfortunate because 4H we say, is learning by doing.”
She said everyone was affected but especially livestock showers at the fairs from county to state.
Bigler said some kids barely made profits this year, and that money usually goes a long way, “It pays for college, also for feeding, or whatever I might need for say, buying a car later.”
Colorado State Fair GM Scott Stoller said the fair will be one of the last things to get back to normal, so this year they’re just doing what they can to accommodate all the hard work of 4H and FFA.
“We have the ability and it’s in our mission to support these youth programs. So working with public health we knew we could do this,” Stoller said.
The COVID-19 testing site has been by the livestock pavilion but is being moved to Gate 2 during the far to help give everyone a little more room.
The events are staggered on the calendar and livestock will be showcased throughout the grounds, giving lots of space for exhibitors and judges.
There will be an auction, live and virtual, but they’ve made changes so kids won’t have to take a financial loss, especially as some buyers may be saving due to the tough times.
“We’ve made adjustments on the number of kids who are eligible to sell so people aren’t forced in an auction and end up with a price that’s worse than they could do on their own,” Stoller added.
We’ve all had to learn to live a new normal during the pandemic and have given up all kinds of big celebrations, and like a lot of people, these kids are taking things in stride. They say they’re thankful for what’s been done.
“it’s a really big thank you to the volunteers we have. Because even in a normal year it’s because of them,” Corcoran said.
“4Hers are really resilient. That’s what they do. That’s what they're good at. They’re able to take a challenge and turn it into an opportunity. It’s not the year they had planned, or the year I had planned, but they ran with it,” Johnston said.
Johnston said we can all take a page from their book as we keep working toward our rebound.
4H also started a YouTube channel this year and even started doing live streams of animals. They may keep some of those new ideas. As for next year, things usually kick off in the fall but they’re still working to figure out how to handle the upcoming year.
The State Fair kicks off Friday but it’s closed to the public. They have a lot of activities on their website including a day camp for kids, cooking demonstrations, entertainment, and they’ll live stream events.
The first weekend they will have a drive-through food fair event where you can drive up and get the fair food delivered to your car. For all the information on the state fair click here.