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No state fair? No problem. The Ohio Youth Livestock Expo is Darke County’s socially distanced alternative: 88 Counties in 88 Days

With the Ohio State Fair canceled due to the pandemic, one Darke County group created an expo of their the state’s disappointed kids

GREENVILLE, Ohio — This content is part of our 88 Counties in 88 Days coverage, which focuses on the current issues Ohioans are facing in this election year. 

Clay Johnson is a competitor at the Ohio Youth Livestock Exposition. This is his tenth year preparing and training to show his livestock at the fair, but this year was a little different.

“When I heard the state fair had to be canceled it was a bit of a bummer, but then I heard there’s a group of people putting this on and I couldn't have been more excited,” Johnson said. 

This summer is the Ohio Youth Livestock Exposition’s first year. Stephanie Sindel is the Chair for the OYLE. Her and her committee of volunteers had to step up to make sure the exposition went on.

“Had the committee not stepped up, those kids wouldn't have had a place to take their livestock projects at the end of the summer," Sindel said.

Despite the fair cancellation, Darke County Fair Manager Brian Rismiller said the county was prepared for the exposition.

“We’ve got the facility for it, we reached out to the group and wanted to host that for them,” Rismiller said.

But the layout of this year’s events look a little different to meet the state’s guidelines for COVID-19. Competitors and their animals from all over the state are spread out throughout the facility to make sure they maintain social distance and they have to wear face masks.

As for Johnson, he said he understands the rules and limits about maintaining distance and wearing a mask, but he’s just glad they had a show this year. 

“In the ring you have to keep a 6-foot distance, it can all be kind of frustrating but when you get right down to it we might have not even had a show today,” Johnson said. “And that would've been a lot worse than having to wear a mask.”