Morgan Pachares, 15, helps Eva Buckley, 2, feed Kangaroo the lamb at the 4-H Livestock Sale on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, at the Laramie County Fair. Saturday was the last day of the fair, which was closed to the public due to COVID-19, and the livestock sale was one of the last big events. Rhianna Gelhart/For the Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – For Bricen Baktamarian, the sale of his steer occurred in just a few quick minutes, the rhythmic shouts of the auctioneer quickly moving onto the next participant as the 14-year-old left the main show area at the Event Center at Archer Complex.

While the auction itself was quick, the buildup to the Laramie County Fair’s 4-H Livestock Sale required a lot of work from everyone involved. For kids like Baktamarian over the last few weeks, it’s meant waking up and washing their steers down in the early morning, then prepping them further for the show later every day.

In some ways, the livestock sale Saturday, which marked the end of the two-week county fair, felt similar to past auctions, with more than 100 people in attendance and few masks in sight.

But there were a few signs of the COVID-19 pandemic. To accommodate for the fair’s livestream on its Youtube page, a few orange cones lined the area in front of the auction area, with a simple message for attendees: “Please do not walk through the live sale feed.”

The pandemic also caused fair officials to modify the week leading up to the sale, as different livestock species had to be brought to the complex on separate days to be weighed.

“The hauling in and out is a bit different, especially with the cattle,” said Damien Mason, an 18-year-old county resident competing for his fourth time. “(In the past), we always showed up, and they had several days to settle down before the show. This year, it’s show up, right off the trailer and right back in it.”

However, the tweaked formats didn’t hinder the broader mission of the 4-H program, which is partially run by the University of Wyoming Extension Service. As youth educator for Laramie County program, Kristi Nagy has seen the year-to-year growth of kids who participate.

Nagy was glad the animal shows, as well as non-livestock contests for things like cake decorating and woodworking, were able to continue despite the pandemic.

“They’re a little different with the fact that they’re more of an in-and-out show … but the integrity of being able to show their projects and showcase their work throughout the year is still there,” Nagy said.

While many were longtime participants, other kids were competing for the first time. Clad in his cowboy shirt and boots, Chase Bruckner had decided to enter for the first time with a lamb that he had named Skittles.

While it was his first time competing in the show, Bruckner had been to the fair before, and there was one thing he missed: “Camping.” While normally families and friends bring their campers to the nearby area for the week, that wasn’t allowed this year.

The show Saturday also sometimes meant a great deal of waiting for people whose sales were slated for later in the day. In a holding area where many of the livestock relaxed, Krista Macy was tending to her two kids’ steer, a largely black one named Spot.

“It’s hard to see them go,” said Macy. “Even the parents get choked up.”

As she hung out in a lawn chair, Macy praised other participants for following the altered rules throughout the week, allowing the sale to go on.

“We’re just happy to have a fair, whatever the process is,” she added.

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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