A New Way to Show Animals

4-H members are able to exhibit their projects through virtual show opportunities during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been anything but normal, and the 4-H program has been no exception. County fairs and other shows all had to be canceled for safety concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving New Hampshire 4-H members with little opportunities to exhibit their 4-H projects they had already worked so hard with.  This started the thought process of virtual show opportunities for 4-Hers.

Virtual shows offered the opportunity to show animals, in a competitive atmosphere, while not being physically present together. For the beef and dairy shows, members took two-minute videos, with help from family members of their 4-H projects, as if they were in the show ring at a fair. The videos were then uploaded to a survey and put into folders by breed and age. The folders were then shared with judges to judge as if they were in a type or confirmation class. Additionally, the judges were asked to select the best showman and best fit animal of both the virtual beef and dairy shows. Blue Seal in Bow NH very generously donated prizes to these extra competitions.

Virtual shows were also held for 4-H members participating in the dog, sheep, goat, poultry and rabbit project areas.  Some shows involved members showing during a “live” Zoom session, in others a photo or video was submitted for judging.  Across species, over 120 members participated in virtual shows. 

While this was a bittersweet experience for many people, as they reminisced about fair season while uploading their videos, it was a way to be socially connected while physically distanced. In a time of need, the 4-H community was able to come together and support each other during these hard times. Our judges were all 4-H alumni, and took their jobs very seriously, as they all knew what this opportunity to show the cows meant to these 4-H members. While we can hope that 2021 returns to some form of normalcy, it’s comforting to see groups of people like the 4-H community working together during these hard times.