They had one goal: Win the Junior Livestock Competition at the 2020 San Diego County Fair.
They worked together for months, kids and teenagers with cows, sheep, pigs, and goats.
Then the coronavirus wiped out school. It wiped out graduation and prom night.
“I was just devastated,” said Delana Sehnert. She lost the second half of her senior year at Fallbrook High School.
“I was really bummed,” agreed her sister Mallory.
Both girls have participated in the livestock competition every year under the guidance of their father, Doug. This year, Delana and Mallory cared for cows and goats.
“I was looking at all my animal chores like a kind of an escape, just making them be the best they can be for the fair that was going to still happen,” Delana said.
The sisters didn’t think the pandemic would last into the summer and wipe out the fair, too.
“I was really sad because the fair is a lot of fun,” Mallory said.
Jacky Eshelby was also sad. She’s the exhibits director for the 22nd District Agricultural Association. Eshelby’s staff rallied once they realized the fair wasn’t going to happen in 2020 and the Junior Livestock Competition wouldn’t be held.
At least … not in person.
“I was nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof,” Eshelby said.
And so the 22nd District organized the competition’s first live online judging Thursday for 171 animals.
“It was as live as possible, from their backyards to our new show ring in Mission Tower,” Eshelby said.
The district will host a live online auction and fundraiser for the students on Saturday. The auction and fundraiser are important. The auction will offset the costs the students incurred to compete with their animals, while the fundraiser will help provide trophies for champions and fund scholarships for the students. The district missed out on those fundraising opportunities because the San Diego County Fair was canceled.
“It just made me feel a little bit better about it,” said Delana, whose steer, Monroe, was named a champion.
Mallory’s steer. Gizmo. was named a champion in another category.
“I worked really hard with him,” Mallory said.