The Clearwater County Fair is moving ahead with plans to open this week despite the cancellation of the popular Orofino Lumberjack Days celebration over concerns about COVID-19.

William Warren, University of Idaho extension agent for Clearwater County, said even though the two events typically run in conjunction with each other, the fair and the Lumberjack Days celebration are separate and run by different organizations.

“The Orofino Lumberjack Days celebration is a private entity and they’re responsible for the lumberjack competition on Sunday, the lumberjack auction on Saturday, the horse pull on Saturday night, the parade during Saturday and the food booths and vendors in the city park and the carnival,” Warren said. “That’s technically not part of the fair and all of that is canceled.”

The county fair, he said, will consist of the open class and 4-H home economics exhibits in the exhibit hall, and the 4-H livestock contests in the livestock arena. The schedule has been abbreviated to reduce the number of people in the exhibit halls at one time and all livestock events will be held outdoors to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and to allow for social distancing.

Despite the pandemic — or maybe because of it — Warren said the number of 4-H livestock projects are up this year, especially with swine. Fair organizers expect 12 beef projects, 63 swine projects and two sheep projects.

“Those numbers may seem small,” Warren said. “But we don’t have the number of animals that other counties do. These are good numbers for us. Last year, our auction, despite COVID, raised over $100,000 last year, so it was a big auction for our kids.”

Erin Rodgers, 4-H program manager, said there are 190 4-H members in Clearwater County this year, which is an increase, and about 20 adult volunteers.

“I think people are excited that 4-H is still about programming for kids,” Rodgers said. “We did not stop (because of COVID-19); we just changed gears and tried to do as much as we could to keep our program going. We didn’t change anything and that’s what parents are most excited about.”

According to the fair board, there will be sanitizing stations in the exhibit building and mask wearing will be encouraged but not mandatory. Social distancing also will be encouraged.

The exhibit building will be open from noon to 8 p.m. today and the livestock barn will be open from 4:30-9 p.m. for people to enter their booths and exhibits.

Judging will commence at 8 a.m. Thursday. The exhibit building will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

On Friday, the livestock barn will open again at 8 a.m. and the 4-H livestock auction starts at 6 p.m. The exhibit building will be open from 1-6 p.m.

Saturday the barn opens at 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the exhibit building from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., with cleanup starting at 6 p.m.

Both halls will be closed Sunday to allow for clean up.

Hedberg may be contacted at kathyhedberg@gmail.com or (208) 983-2326.