Fair goers grab food at the Malheur County Fair in 2019. This year's fair has been canceled but an online auction slated for mid-July will help local youth sell their stock. (The Enterprise/File)

ONTARIO – The Malheur County Fair is canceled because of state restrictions related to COVID-19 but members of 4-H and FFA will still be able to sell their market stock under plans announced this week.

An internet auction – hosted by the Malheur County Fairgrounds and spearheaded by the junior sales committee – will start July 15 and run through July 31.

Interested individuals can go to https://www.jbsauctions.com to bid.

On May 8, the Malheur County Fair Board canceled the fair because of the COVID-19 virus. A local staple for 111 years, the fair was held during World War I, World War II and after other national emergencies.

“It is a big deal for the simple fact in this day and age and with covid we feel very fortunate that people want to step up and help the kids,” said Helen Thomas, fair board member.

Thomas is also a member of the junior sales committee.

Thomas said The Nichols Accounting Group PC in Ontario will invoice all of the add-ons sales.

The auction will cover steers, sheep, pigs, goats and dairy heifers, said Thomas.

Youth who intend to show their stock can submit a photo of their animal to the junior sales committee after July 1.

“That’s actually the most important thing,” said Thomas.

JBS Auctions owner, JB Salutregui said he will do the auction at cost because he wants to help out area youth.

Salutregui is no stranger to the Malheur County Fair or the stock sale.

“I was on the (Malheur County Fair) sales committee for, I think, 12 years. Our goal going into this year was to sell 100 steers and we would have reached it if we had not had the coronavirus,” said Salutregui.

Salutregui said there will precise information on the JBS web site regarding how to register and bid for the auction today.

Interested individuals can go to the web site and click on the tab labeled “Malheur County Junior Livestock Sale” to get more information.

“They click on the Malheur County Livestock sale and the first tab will be how to bid. Information tabs will be put in place to walk them through the process,” said Salutregui.

For those who do not have internet access, Salutregui said his staff will be available to answer questions over the phone.

Salutregui also said his business – which covers nine states – will deploy three mobile offices in the county so local residents can register and to help close out the auction.

“We can walk them through the steps,” said Salutregui.

Salutregui said when his children were young they participated in 4-H and FFA and the stock auction at the fair. His involvement in the online auction is a way to give back to the community, he said.

“It is going to be a process but I would be heartbroken if I wasn’t involved in it,” said Salutregui.

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