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Cabot Oil & Gas has pitched in to make sure the Harford Fair Livestock Auction goes on as a virtual event despite cancellation of the fair.
When this year’s Harford Fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous youths were left without a venue to show their animals prior to selling them at auction. In response, the SusCo Youth Agricultural Foundation was formed last month to coordinate an online auction, as well as create an opportunity for the youths to safely show their livestock.
“4-H leaders, parents and community members got together and said, ‘we really need to do something for these kids,’” Foundation board secretary Cathy Bewley related. “Just when it seemed insurmountable and ‘we can’t do it,’ the community has stepped up to make it happen.”
Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation of Montrose reached out to provide financial support for the event, and Lopatofsky Auction, LLC of Clifford Township waived the $1,200 set-up fee for the Virtual Livestock Auction that will conclude on Saturday, Aug. 15.
“Cabot has graciously donated $2,500 to help us make this a reality,” said Bewley. Board members believe that Cabot’s contribution will help them cover most of their costs. Other businesses and individuals in the community are making donations as well. Foundation members are considering using those funds toward livestock scholarships for ag-focused seniors going to college this year, another opportunity that has eluded 4-H youths with no participation in public events.
Mike Lopatofsky noted that this is the first time his family’s company has put so many animals up for virtual auction for a specific cause, but he is confident that it is the best way to sell them and ensure that the youths get some return on their investments.
“It’s going to be different, but your still bidding,” he remarked. “You’re just clicking a mouse rather than sitting and raising your hands.” The full catalog of 76 animals is already posted at www.lopyauctions.com, and bidding has begun. Saturday’s event will be broadcast live on the Lopatofsky Auction LLC Facebook page with cameras focused on employees monitoring bids with a photo of the animal on a large screen behind them, as well as banners acknowledging key sponsors.
“If somebody buys and animal, we will announce their name during the live feed,” Mike related. “If you are busy on Saturday, you can go in now and put in a pre-bid.” If nobody offers more than the reserve bid, he noted, Lopatofsky staff will contact the buyer after the sale to confirm payment and find out where they want their purchased animal taken.
Youths will have an opportunity to show their animals at an undisclosed location to be judged on their showmanship. The event will not be open to the public. Neither the show nor auction are sanctioned by 4-H, but Foundation members like Bewley, who leads the North Jackson 4-H Club, are looking to 4-H for guidance. She cited 4-H educator SarahRae Sasson as just one of the valuable supporters sharing her expertise outside of her official 4-H duties.
Youths need only to complete their 4-H project books to meet their requirements this year. The show and online sale offer additional options. Some youths have already secured buyers for their animals and will only show. Youths who do not show can still sell their animals via the Virtual Livestock Auction.
“The animals are meant for somebody’s freezer, so they aren’t just going to hang on to them,” said Bewley. The showing will not be broadcast this year, but that may be an option in the future. “Though we will not be live this year,” she explained. “that could help increase our online options next year for people who do not feel comfortable attending events.” The SusCo Youth Agricultural Foundation may also play into sales and shows next year if the COVID situation continues.
“This was just the right thing to do,” said Lopatofsky. “It’s not these kids fault that this happened. They’ve put a lot of time into their projects and spent a lot of money.”
“They have missed out on a lot this year, and this is a great opportunity to keep them engaged in agriculture,” Cabot external affairs manager Bill desRosiers concurred. “We at Cabot encourage you to help us help the dedicated youths of Susquehanna County by awarding their perseverance during this pandemic with an online bid.”
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