Weigh-ins begin, livestock arrive at Alachua County youth fair

The first rule of raising a market swine for the 2021 Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show: Don’t give it a name.

Eleven-year-old Eli Surrency of Hawthorne was dumping shavings in pen No. 55 at the newly renovated Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center early Friday morning as adjacent pens were filling up quickly.

“I’m most excited about walking and showing,” said Surrency about his York-Hampshire cross pig that just weighed in at 284 pounds. This will be Surrency’s first showing as a 4-H member.

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“I’m not gonna keep ’em,” he said.

The fair will feature a packed schedule of events that include dairy goats, a steer show, a poultry skill-a-thon, a celebrity show, a cattleman’s contest and the market animal sale at 1 p.m. on March 9.

Newberry 4-H Club leader Becky Farr said there are 37 kids ages 5 to 18 participating this year. Membership has declined since a lot of the older kids moved on to local FFA chapters.

“We brought mostly swine with a few goats and beef,” she said. “Some are double dipping with chickens or rabbits and swine.”

The pandemic has impacted how the clubs operated this year, Farr said, with many holding meetings virtually. But she said 4-H members will still gain from the experience of the youth fair just as much, if not more.

“They learned to help each other, learned patience, to persevere with all the meetings being on Zoom,” she said. “We saw the kids step up and push through.”

The event runs from Friday to Tuesday at the Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center 23100 W. Newberry Road. Admission is free.

Due to the pandemic, the non-livestock exhibits will be held virtually but the livestock projects will exhibit and show.

There will be a livestream of the livestock show and sale for any spectators or family attending in person. Officials will also hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center at 5:45 p.m. Saturday.

To read a complete schedule of events click here.

The fair is implementing CDC guidelines with all exhibitors and spectators wearing masks and social distancing. 

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