Yes, the Western Montana Fair has been canceled for 2020 due to concerns about the coronavirus, but one very important aspect of the fair is still very much alive.

Fair officials have found a way for kids involved in 4-H and FFA livestock projects can still get the full benefit of all their hard work, resulting in a live stock sale on Saturday at the Western Montana Fairgrounds.

Events and Operations Manager for the Missoula County Fairgrounds Billie Ayers saw the handwriting on the wall, but she and her staff found a unique way of recognizing the 4-H and FFA kids and their livestock projects.

“When we didn't know if the fair would be able to go forward or not, we started a new program called Pen Portraits,” said Ayers. “We offered the kids a chance to have their picture taken by a professional photographer at their homes and we drove to everybody's farm and took the photo with their animals. Then we had the kids fill out a bio on what they plan to do with that animal to get it ready for the fair.”

Ayers said the kids do what they have always done to get their animals ready for the fair.

“These kids are actually working very hard to make sure that their animals are healthy, they're gaining weight, because they're being bred so that they can pass on really desirable attributes to their offspring, so they are developing a herd," she said."There's a lot of education to be learned from this year regarding the animals in the competition.”

Ayers said even though the fair itself is impossible due to COVID 19, there will still be a fat stock sale on Saturday.

“The best way to help the fair this year is to help those 4-H and FFA kids have a great sale,” she said. “You can do that remotely or in person at the sale on Saturday, August 8 at 8:00 a.m. But you need to pre-register by August 5th.”

Ayers said there are several options for the general public to support the 4-H and FFA kids, even if you can’t attend the sale on Saturday.

“You can buy a whole animal if you like,” she said. “Or you can go ahead and coordinate by pre-registering by August 5th, and buy just a portion of an animal. Or if you don’t really want the animal, you can bump a child sales income by a flat fee of $25, $50 or a hundred dollars. You can call that in and we'll coordinate that for you. Or you can just say I want to add 25, 50, or 75 cents to a pound and we'll take care of that for you.”

Call the Western Montana Fair Office at 721-FAIR to preregister by August 5, or visit westernmontanafair.com