Coos County Fair

Kids sit in the shade with their goats at the 2019 Coos County Fair in Myrtle Point.

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MYRTLE POINT — A number of local organizations and nonprofits are looking for ways to continue hosting livestock shows and animal auctions this summer amid ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Unsure if the Coos County Fair & Rodeo will continue on this year, Daris Bouthillier, a fair board member, said the board met last week to begin discussions on how best to proceed, which included reaching out to some of its community partners and sponsors.

With many COVID-19 restrictions still in place and large social gatherings being limited, Bouthillier said the board is doing the best it can to prepare and plan for either a cancellation, or modified, rollout of this year’s fair.

A longtime, summer tradition, the Coos County Fair & Rodeo has for over 100 years attracted thousands of visitors to the area, each of which are looking to enjoy live musical entertainment, amusement rides and food.

Some of the most popular events at the fair are the various livestock shows and auctions, said Bouthillier. As a result, the board, he said, voted last Monday to proceed with its support and plans to help local groups to keep the shows going on.

The Coos Youth Committee, an independent, nonprofit organization, is expected to release the details of how it plans to hosts its livestock auctions in the coming weeks.

The nonprofit, which promotes and supports the local 4-H/FFA market, under its animal auction program teaches students in grades 5-12 the skills needed to raise animals for breeding or meat purposes. Currently, the program has over 100 students looking to participate in auctions this summer.

Elissa Wells, a 4-H youth development coordinator, said she intends to work closely with the local FFA chapters this year as well to host the shows in modified format which will include possibly limiting the number of people who can attend in-person shows and/or going virtual.

“The health and safety of the 4-H members and their families as well as our volunteers is our number one priority,” she said.

According to Wells, if the in-person shows take place folks in attendance will be spread out throughout the facility in order to follow state and federal social distancing guidelines. The number of those allowed into a show will also be limited to 4-H members and their families and will likely be closed to the public.

With different sets of phase reopening guidelines to follow, Wells said she will closely monitor the situation and will readjust the shows accordingly.

“We want the kids to be able to showcase their hard work and show off their projects and celebrate the end of the year,” said Wells. “So, that may be a combination of virtual or live shows with modifications so they meet the current county and state guidelines.”

With the novel coronavirus ever-evolving and restrictions being rolled back or extended, Bouthillier said the fair board will meet again and release this week its official plans on whether or not it will kick off the 2020 fair season.

The board he added is starting to brainstorm and come up with contingency plans should restrictions continue to loosen up. If that happens, it is also preparing guidelines to continue to follow local and state health guidelines related to combating the spread of COVID-19.

“We should try to do whatever we think we can do within the governor’s guidelines to open,” he said. “We owe it to the kids to at least try … let’s plan and be as prepared as we can be.”

Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-6039 or by email at worldnews3@countrymedia.net.

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