The Geary County Fairgrounds were packed Thursday night for the annual auction as 4-Hers sold their livestock and projects to members of the public.

According to Geary County Extension Agent Chuck Otte, the fair saw good attendance from members of the public who were barred from attending last year due to COVID-19.

Though attendance was down somewhat from previous years, he said enthusiasm levels were high among those who did attend.

“I think there was more this year simply because we did not have even a semi-normal fair last year,” he said. “So yeah, lots of enthusiasm.”

Projects and livestock alike sold well at Thursday night’s 4-H auction according to Otte.

The auction’s premiums totaled $56,825.

“It just started out high and just went solid all the way through,” he said. “Projects, animals, everything. It was just incredible support from the community.”

In total, 77 projects and animals were auctioned off — slightly down from 2018 and 2019 when the totals were in the mid 80s, Otte said.

“Down a little bit but not bad at all,” he said.

Attendance was down at the barbecue — possibly owing to the pandemic, Otte said, but people stuck around for the auction to show their support.

Items sold at the auction included an American flag pie, photographs, handmade wreaths and themed gift baskets.

“I’m always amazed at the ingenuity of these 4-Hers and some of the projects that they bring in,” he said. “I think it’s absolutely amazing to creativity that they show … It never ceases to amaze me.”

Open class returned this year.

According to Otte, open class entries appeared to be down slightly from past years but not by that much.

“I know a lot of folks were glad to see the open class come back,” he said, after COVID-19 drove the Geary County Fair Board to ban open class entries from last year’s fair.

The delta variant of the virus has been rapidly making its way through the Geary County community and Otte conceded he did have concerns. The fair this year had no social distancing rules or mask requirements in place, though he said measures were taken to clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces.

“Any time you get a crowd together, I’m concerned,” Otte said. “A lot of the time, stuff was outside here, so that does help. And I think that’s the reason we didn’t have some of the crowd like we normally do — people are still concerned about it. We were trying to take precautions. We were wiping down door handles — we had full-time staff in there taking care of that, wiping down tables tonight.”

Fair workers and volunteers were expected to practice good hand hygiene, he said.

“You take the precautions you can,” Otte said. “A lot of us have been vaccinated, so we’re just going forward with that.”

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