The Douglas County Lamb Show has been a place for people to exhibit lamb and sheep products for 81 years, but this year the traditional youth show and sale has been moved online due to restrictions in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Douglas County Youth Market Auction Committee developed the virtual show and sale to provide an outlet and market for youth registered in the market lamb program.
“They’re going through the project as if they were showing up Saturday,” Roseburg Rotary Junior Livestock Auction Chairman Sam Lee said. “All the learning pieces are still in the lamb show.”
Other aspects of the lamb show, such as the barbecue or sheering competition, have been canceled.
Each child participating in the show had to submit a 60- to 90-second video that will be evaluated by livestock judges, who will provide feedback once judging is complete.
“A lot of the process has continued: feeding, taking care of it, practicing,” said Sutherlin FFA adviser Wes Crawford. “It’s harder for clubs and chapters to get together for practices, so the kids have to do a little more on their own. We have to be more creative in providing the support we can provide.”
The lamb show has typically been held the first Saturday in June at the Douglas County Fairgrounds and featured about 200 youth 4-H and FFA participants last year. This year there were 178 competitors who sent in videos of their lambs.
Crawford said there are about 10 students from Sutherlin who have submitted videos, but there are also a few who made the decision not to participate. The majority of his students are still participating, but he did hear some reasons why people opted out of the virtual show.
“One has ewe lamb so she wants to keep it as a breeding animal and move into that direction,” Crawford said. “Others found other ways to bring their lamb to market through opportunities they had. Others are keeping and hoping to do further shows in the summer or fall as shows start in person again.”
Businesses, organizations and individuals can donate money toward the lamb sales. The money will be pooled together and awarded based on the animal grade in the virtual show. Only blue- and red-ribbon graded lambs will sell.
Money can be sent to the Roseburg Rotary at P.O. Box 502 in Roseburg, OR 97470, or donations can be made online at Cascade Community Credit Union.
“I’ve been very pleased with the sponsors,” Lee said, adding that several of the larger prior sponsors stepped up this year to support the virtual auction.
Youth will deliver their lamb to the Dixonville scales where lambs will be checked to see if it’s still in grade. Any lambs that are deemed to “not of quality” will be refused, this standard was also held at the in-person lamb show.
Since there are no individual buyers, all the lambs will be distributed to those who have requested a lamb, but donors will not be able to pick individual lambs.
“It’s definitely not the same,” Crawford said. “There’s a lot of value in doing it live. Overall the experience is better. However, doing the virtual show and sale is absolutely important, and to not have done it would have been a disservice.”
Lee added, “We’re hoping this is a one-time thing.”