- Author: Dan Macon
Like everything and everyone else in 2020, our local fairs are adapting to the changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As I write this, the Nevada County Fair Junior Livestock Auction is underway – virtually! Youth exhibitors who've spent months (and in some cases, a full year) raising their livestock projects are excitedly anticipating the rewards for their hard work.
Livestock are judged during the fair on a variety of attributes – their structural correctness, the amount and shape of muscling, the degree of finish (or fat) they possess. This evaluation is designed to predict the quality of the end product – the meat that our junior livestock auction buyers will put in their freezers, and ultimately on their tables. But just as we know we can't judge a book (entirely) by its cover, there's more to predicting meat quality than a judge's subjective opinion. And that's why our local fairs and livestock associations (including the Tahoe Cattlemen's Association) also sponsor contests to evaluate meat quality after the fair.
Meat quality is a combination of the amount of meat an animal produces and the appropriate amount of fat (which we refer to as marbling). This marbling makes for an enjoyable eating experience - a juicy, tender steak! Choice or prime grades in lamb or beef are the target!
So how do our Nevada County youth beef exhibitors measure up against these industry standards? Last year, 91% of the beef from the fair graded USDA Choice or better! Twelve exhibitors received a Carcass of Merit award from the Tahoe Cattlemen's Association; another two received the Gold Seal Award. This doesn't happen on its own! The quality of the product these exhibitors produce is a testament to their hard work, the quality of their care, and the support provided by 4-H leaders, Future Farmers of America advisors, families and friends.
The bottom line: when you're supporting the Junior Livestock Auction, you're supporting a great kid – and you're putting a great steak (or lamb chop, or pork chop, or goat chop) on your plate!
To participate in the Nevada County Fair Junior Livestock Auction, go to https://auction.showorks.cloud/fair/ncfair./span>