COVID Can’t Stop Youths from Showing their Market Best

Grading show judge Brad Mendes looks over the highest-rated group of feeder calves from each weight class to select the champions during the market animal grading show at the I.V. Fairgrounds in Imperial on Thursday, Feb. 25, through Sunday, Feb. 28. | COURTESY PHOTO

IMPERIAL — Nearly 230 youngsters from around the Imperial Valley got their time in a show ring Thursday, Feb. 25, through Sunday, Feb. 28, in a market animal grading show that substituted for the California Mid-Winter Fair’s junior livestock show in this COVID-19-impacted year.

Participants included members of Valley FFA, 4-H, and Grange chapters as well as independent exhibitors.

“All in all, the show went very well,” Alan Phillips, fair chief executive officer, stated in a fair press release. “While we obviously would have rather had our traditional fair and livestock events, we did learn a lot from this grading show.

“And most importantly, our local youth exhibitors had an opportunity to present their livestock projects before a judge,” Phillips added.

Animals that were allowed to show were steers, feeder calves, swine, goats, and market lambs. While this year’s fair has been canceled due to the pandemic, the grading show was allowed because the California Department of Food and Agriculture has determined that market animals are essential to the food chain.

However, there were strict limits, and there was no auction or showmanship competition. The show’s rules limited the number of people who could be on the grounds to those directly involved in the exhibition, which could number no more than 100 people at any one time.

The show also was “terminal,” which means no participating animal could be taken home or sold to any buyer other than a designated meat processor. The project animals were transported to the processors immediately after the day’s exhibition was completed. Youngsters received the market price for their animals, although the fair will be holding an online “add-on” process that will allow the community to contribute to the exhibitor projects.

Judging the exhibitions was Brad Mendes, an animal sciences lecturer at Fresno State University and a member of the university’s livestock judging team.

And in a first for the livestock events, the show was live-streamed over the fair’s website.

Grading Show Results for Grand Champions and Reserve Champions


Grand Champion Demi Mange of Verde 4-H Club (Holtville)

Reserve Champion Mia Loera of Brawley FFA


Grand Champion Shelbee Rolfe of Verde 4-H Club (Holtville)

Reserve Champion Max Eyer of M&M 4-H Club (Brawley)

Feeder Calf

Grand Champion Jackson Irungaray of Verde 4-H Club (Holtville)

Reserve Champion Seth Cruz of Westmorland  4-H Club


Grand Champion Giana Irungaray of Verde 4-H Club (Holtville)

Reserve Champion Kaitlyn Jackson of Calipatria 4-H Club


Grand Champion Lily Reeves of Southwest Valley 4-H Club (Imperial)

Reserve Champion Smith Hilfiker of Verde 4-H Club (Holtville)

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