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4-H Livestock Shows Resume In Kalamazoo

Anna is smiling and holding a picture of her prizewinning chickens and Megan, to her right, is holding a white banner from the prizes. In the background attendees of the auction stand in a dimly lit pavilion
Sehvilla Mann

Most of the Kalamazoo County fair was canceled this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. But unlike last year, kids and youth in 4-H got to bring their animals to the fairgrounds. After nearly two weeks of showing animals from horses to goats to rabbits, the shows ended today with a livestock auction, the fair’s only public event for 2021.

Nine-year-old Anna Jubenville was selling some chickens. She said they’d grown so large she couldn’t pick them up.

“They’re way too big,” Jubenville said as she waited for the auction to begin. “When I try to weigh them my father has to chase them around the coop because he has the bigger hands.”

Unusually, the livestock weren’t present for the auction because of COVID restrictions.

Nineteen-year-old WMU student and longtime 4-H participant Jonathan Hunter, who was selling a couple of dairy steers, said an auction was restrictions was better than none at all.

“But it’s still not quite there,” he said, noting the livestock’s absence at the auction and what he said was a much smaller crowd than usual. “Hopefully next year for my last year it’s back to normal.”

Michigan State University student Abby VanDyk said she’s been showing livestock in 4-H for 15 years.

“This year’s actually my last year, so I’m very sad on how it ended. But it’s definitely bittersweet that we still get to have a fair this year, compared to last year, not having it really at all,” she said.

VanDyk was selling her grand champion beef steer.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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