With the cancellation of the 2020 Harford Fair due to COVID-19 concerns, a local group sprang into action to provide local 4-H members and the livestock they raised with intentions to auction at the fair.
Members of the SusCo Youth Agricultural Foundation have organized with Lopatofsky Auctions LLC to provide 65 local 4-H youths with a private livestock show and virtual sale for the steer, lamb, pigs and goats they have raised for show at what would have been the 163rd Harford Fair.
“We’re just hoping to get as much support we can for the kids and their animals,” said Nicole Fearnley, the group’s treasurer and fundraiser.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the show will be private and the sale will be an online format hosted by Lopatofsky Auctions. The show will be held on August 13 and 14 followed by the sale starting at 9 a.m., on Saturday, August 15. Bids for the sale can be made before at www.lopyauctions.com but prospective bidders must register at least 24 hours in advance of auction.
“We tried to make it as open and as flexible as possible,” Fearnley said.
Because SusCo Youth Agricultural Foundation cannot use 4-H funds, its parents, 4-H leaders and invested community members need community support to help pay for fairgrounds rental, insurances, judges, bathroom facilities, sanitation facilities, advertising and marketing. Fearnley said that SusCo Youth Agricultural Foundation has entered into a partnership with Cabot Oil & Gas as a corporate sponsor to help cover expenses.
“This is a local high quality product that kids have raised,” Fearnley added.
“Our kids are really excited to be involved,” she said.
Jillian Gustin, 13, of Meshoppen, has raised a steer named Winston and two lambs named Danny and Delilah. In the past she has stayed at the Harford Fair during fair week with her brother, Jacob, 17, and sister Maddie, 19. She shares the sentiment of the other 4-H kids at news of the cancellation of the Harford Fair. “It was pretty sad,” she said.
“I hope that they can come and support 4-H in the virtual auction,” Gustin said.
Morgan Tweed is 14 and lives in Hop Bottom. She raised a lamb named Stitch and a steer named Mr. Bubbles. Tweed said she wants to eventually have her own farm and become a veterinarian. She’s been going to the Harford Fair for four years. “I kinda like medical stuff and I like animals and rather than working with people I decided to work with animals who cooperate more,” Tweed said.
Tweed said she also enjoys cake decorating (although she says she doesn’t think she’s very good at it), photography and is encouraged by the pumpkins, cucumbers and tomatoes she’s growing.
Knowing that she and her friends will not be going to the Harford Fair this year has been painful for her as well. “It kinda hurt a little bit, but I kept doing what we loved and kept with our normal year of taking care of our animals and everything,” she said.
Like others, Tweed says that 4-H means something special to her and has taught her skills she will take with her into the years that lie ahead.
“I think the kids who are showing and selling are marketing themselves better than people who just gave up in the beginning,” she said.
In addition to that, she treasurers the time she spends with the animals. “I love them. The experience with them is what I love most. Some people just do it for the money,” she said.
River Hoover, 9, said he was “very disappointed” at not going to the Harford Fair this year with his two pigs, Tater Tot and Gary. In the past he’s also stayed at the fair. The young Hoover is also attracted to the idea of becoming of becoming a veterinarian.
But he feels encouraged by the auction that the SusCo Agricultural Youth Foundation has arranged in the absence of the Fair.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” Hoover said. “We really appreciate them doing it.”
Mike Lapatofsky of Lapatofsky Auction LLC said he wanted to encourage auction participants to bid high and bid often. Lapatofsky waived his usual fees for SsusCo Agricultural Youth Foundation.
“The idea of a live virtual auction is that it is actual live bidding, just on a computer screen and not in person,” Lapatofsky explained. “We will be selling with an actual auctioneer showing the picture of the animal being sold on the computer screen taking online virtual live bids.”
Purchasers shouldn’t feel trapped by their purchase, Lapatofsky stressed. This auction, unlike the machinery and other items he normally auctions, has a slightly different goal in mind.
“In the past many buyers have donated their purchases back for resale for a certain cause. This year anyone can donate it back and the money will go to the SusCo Youth Agricultural Foundation which has been formed to continue agricultural education for the youth of Susquehanna County and the surrounding area for this year and beyond,” Lapatofsky said.
Those interested in making a donation should make checks payable to “SusCo Youth Agricultural Foundation” and mail to: SusCo Youth Agricultural Foundation, C/O Nicole Fearnley, 3365 Lake of Meadows Rd. Little Meadows, PA 18830.