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COVID-19 Pandemic Cancels County Fair Competitions


Pools are closed. Theme parks are shut. County and state fairs - canceled. Jordan Stivers, who's 19, of the Santa Clara Valley Grange has spent her teenage years rearing livestock for fair competitions and auctions. This year was supposed to be the year to which all others lead. But now livestock competitions have been canceled. Jordan Stivers joins us from Simi Valley, Calif.

Thank you so much for being with us.

JORDAN STIVERS: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: And we have another guest who is right next to you, right?

STIVERS: Yes, this is Pipsqueak, and he was one of two goats that I was raising for this year.

SIMON: One of the advantages, I guess, of having Zoom for some interviews these days is I'm able to look at Pipsqueak as he's kind of just making himself comfortable next to you. He's adorable. Can I say that?

STIVERS: Yeah. He knows it.

SIMON: I'll bet he does. And this would have led to, perhaps, blue ribbons competitions but also an auction, right? Tell us the plan you were making for that at auction, if you could.

STIVERS: Well, every year, my projects are pretty much funded by the Farm Service Agency. They have a youth loan program. And unfortunately, I don't have enough of my own funds usually to pay for these projects. So I would get the loan, and then pretty much the money I make at auction goes to pay back the loan. But unfortunately, this year, if I can't make back enough at auction, I'm going to have to pay that out of pocket.

SIMON: Oh, boy. I'm told there's going to be a virtual auction later this month.

STIVERS: Yes, August 15, there's going to be a virtual auction through The auction is open for anybody to kind of hop on and just kind of watch and see what it's about. Or they are open to buying an animal. There's different options for that.

SIMON: Forgive me for being this chorus where the adorable Pipsqueak is concerned. But how much money would you stand to make from him?

STIVERS: Normally, the auction goes by price per pound. Last year, my goat was about 107 pounds on weigh in, and he sold for $13 a pound. And this year, I think Pipsqueak is coming in a little bit lighter, but I would still expect to make in the $12 to $13 per pound range.

SIMON: Will it be hard for you to sell Pipsqueak, may I ask?

STIVERS: Actually, Pipsqueak isn't the one I'm going to be entering in the auction. I'm going to be taking the other goat that I raised this year. His name's The Duke. And him, he's been a little bratty this year. So I probably won't miss him as much as Pipsqueak. But Pipsqueak I hope to keep around for at least a couple more months to see if any other shows might open up and see if he can still get a chance to get in the ring. After that, he'll probably be going in our freezer, which is always difficult but...

SIMON: I'm sorry. What did you say? You said he'll probably be going in our - what?

STIVERS: I said he'll - after he's done with the shows, he'll probably go in our freezer. And it's difficult. But that's what they're bred and raised for.

SIMON: Oh, my. So what do judges at a county fair look for in a goat?

STIVERS: Oh, there's specific criteria based on their structure. And because these are meat animals, they would look at the muscle quality and overall mass.

SIMON: So it's not exactly the Westminster Dog Show because these goats are winding up in a different place.

STIVERS: I mean, some of them sell, and they go to be pets and they get fat and live for a long time after.

SIMON: Jordan Stivers of Simi Valley, Calif., and Pipsqueak, her goat. Thank you so much for being with us.

STIVERS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.