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Dixie Fire shuts down fair, but not livestock auction

Issue Date: August 25, 2021
By Kevin Hecteman

The massive Dixie Fire canceled the Plumas Sierra County Fair. But the livestock auction went ahead anyway—thanks to some very determined people.

"Don't tell a group of individuals up here that you can't do something," said Jane Roberti, a longtime Plumas-Sierra County Farm Bureau member who served as the hastily rearranged event's advertising coordinator.

The junior livestock show and auction, scheduled for Aug. 11-15, had appeared doomed after the fair was forced to cancel its scheduled Aug. 19-22 run in Quincy on account of the second-largest wildfire in California's recorded history.

But the sale committee and several volunteers banded together to come up with an alternative, "because we needed to make it happen for our exhibitors," Roberti said.

The event was moved to the Sierraville Roping Club Grounds in Sierraville to allow 4-H and FFA exhibitors the chance to show and sell their animals.

The show took place Aug. 13-14, with the auction being held the morning of Aug. 15. In all, 93 lots were sold, Roberti said, and the buyers were generous. A couple of lambs sold for $100 per pound, she said, while a goat fetched $200 per pound.

"One lot was a pig that perished in the fire," Roberti said. "The generosity of people and just the compassion that they had in raising more money for the kids, it was just neat. It would give you goosebumps if you were there."

Megan Neer, the auction's chairwoman, said she was "super thankful for all the kids that stayed strong with this." She said that when the fair was canceled, those involved forged ahead.

"We still need to help teach these kids that when there's a roadblock, it's not the end," Neer said. Overcoming the roadblock, she added, took "many nights, many phone calls trying to, at the last minute, get stuff going for that."

In the end, all but one or two of the families made it to Sierraville for the auction.

"They followed through," Neer said of the 4-H students. "They showed up at the sale over there in a tent and some new white shirts that they bought at Walmart, and just showed what people do and how we can still move on and live. It was really special."

The auction grossed about $519,000—and led to more support for a Dixie Fire relief fund. Neer said Five Marys Farms out of Fort Jones in Siskiyou County came to the auction with the intention of supporting Indian Valley students who lost homes and animals to the fire. Five Marys resold its auction purchases and donated the funds to Dixie Fire relief efforts.

Other donations were made to the Clayton Floyd Neer 4-H Steer, Swine, Sheep and Goat Loan fund, Neer said.

"It was truly just amazing what they did for these kids," Neer said. "You just can't even describe it, really. It melted all their hearts, and it was very much respected."

Roberti's daughter Kristin, the Sierra Valley 4-H president, showed a steer at the event.

"We would like to thank volunteers and sponsors for coming together on such short notice to host the livestock show event for my fellow 4-H and FFA exhibitors as well as myself," the younger Roberti said in a statement.

"It was a phenomenal experience for all the kids," Jane Roberti said, "just to be able to see their friends and to interact with ones who were affected."

(Kevin Hecteman is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. He may be contacted at khecteman@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




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