OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After holding out hope as long as possible, officials canceled the Oklahoma Youth Expo.
Thousands of Oklahoma kids and about 22,000 head of livestock were on the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds for the event.
On Monday, families were packing up so they could be gone by the 5 p.m. deadline set in place by the city’s state of emergency declaration due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The financial effect will be felt by many families.
“It’s just hard knowing that I can’t, who knows what I could have done with those pigs?” said Whitney Glazier, a senior.
Many contestants are crushed, saying their final goodbyes to their livestock. Many of them have been preparing for about a year, investing time and money.
“I would say for this specific set well over $10,000 for sure,” said Pace Mittlestaedt, a senior.
All of them were vying for the chance at the expo’s premium sale.
“Some of those top winners could go for $25-$30,000,” said Rusty Gosz, a superintendent at the event and OSU Animal Science Dept. faculty member.
Instead, they’re choosing between donating them to the Regional Food Bank’s Food for Kids program or selling them for market value.
“Around $40,” said Gosz. “Forty to fifty dollars right now but this is unique times.”
With the current state of the market, these kids aren’t going to get back the money they invested but they will get something else.
“We’re really investing in the youth of Oklahoma and learning work ethic and leadership and responsibility – and the situation that we’re in is another life skill that they’re learning,” said Gosz said.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to win this show but in the end, it’s not about that or the prize money or any of it,” said Mittlestaedt. “It’s about the memories you make.”
The Oklahoma Youth Expo is honoring previously earned scholarships.
Officials released the following statement:
Since the start of the 2020 Oklahoma Youth Expo, balancing the continuation of our event while prioritizing the health and safety of our exhibitors and their families has been our top concern. Late this afternoon, a State of Emergency was announced in Oklahoma City by Oklahoma City Mayor, David Holt.
As part of the state of emergency, the city is restricting public gatherings with 50 or more participants at city-operated facilities and city-owned facilities operated by a private contractor. As a result, we are having to cancel the remainder of the 2020 Oklahoma Youth Expo as of Sunday evening, March 15, 2020.
The Oklahoma Youth Expo has been the centerpiece for Oklahoma agriculture for 105 years. Having to close our doors early is extremely difficult for all exhibitors and their families along with our staff.
We look forward to the 2021 Oklahoma Youth Expo where The World’s Largest Junior Livestock Show will continue to inspire and encourage the development of key skills like leadership, a strong work ethic and problem solving, which helps 4-H and FFA members reach goals far beyond the showing.
Additional updates and information will be provided as it becomes available. For the most current information, please download the official OYE App and additional information will always be updated on okyouthexpo.comOklahoma Youth Expo.
Officials say the gilt sale will be completely online on Tuesday, March 17.
Also, organizers say seniors will have an extra year of eligibility to show at the Oklahoma Youth Expo in 2021 in the market show only.