LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) — Thursday would have been the start of the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.
That’s a big disappointment for kids in Las Cruces chapters of the Future Farmers of America who raised animals all year long in preparation for the fair.
Grady Hodnett, a junior at Mayfield High School in Las Cruces, has raised a steer from birth in hopes of competing at the 2020 New Mexico State Fair. He was aiming for a chance at the grand champion title.
“That ’s ultimately the goal for every showman — to go out there and win grand champion,” Hodnett said.
But not all is lost. He will still have a chance to compete, as his family took videos of his steer to be judged virtually. Although, after a year and a half of preparation, Hodnett says it was a big let down to have the fair canceled.
“It’s heart-wrenching because we’ve been working with these animals,” said Hodnett. “I’ve had him since March, and I’ve really been working with him since November of 2019.”
Every year Hodnett raises a steer, shows it and then sells it at the state fair auction, which will also be virtual this year.
“Every year that I make the sale, a portion of that money goes to the next year’s animals and the next year’s feed, and then a portion of it goes to my scholarship fund,” said Hodnett. “So without me being able to sell my animals this year, it’s going to be tough next year.”
However, New Mexico State Fair officials are anticipating a good buyer turn out for the virtual auction, which will be Sept. 24, saying some sponsors who supported other events at the fair are now looking into the livestock portion.
“We’ve been reaching out to our different sponsors who haven’t been able to participate,” said Dan Mourning, general manager of the New Mexico State Fair. “So sponsors that don’t normally support directly with cash the livestock sale, now all of a sudden they are getting involved and they’re getting excited.”
State fair organizers are hopeful that having a virtual livestock show and auction will give people who haven’t participated in the livestock side of the fair an opportunity to see what kids like Hodnett do.
“But also help understanding now what 4-H and FFA mean, not only here in New Mexico, but to the country; how important agriculture and livestock in our every day lives,” said Mourning.
For more information on the virtual livestock auction, click here.