NAMPA, Idaho — FFA and 4-H students in Ada County and Canyon County will notice a change next year when it comes to showing their animals at local fairs.
Historically, kids have been able to show animals at both the Canyon County fair and the Western Idaho Fair in Ada County.
But starting in 2020, that will change.
FFA and 4-H participants will have to pick one fair or the other to show their animals at. That's because the fairs, especially Canyon County's, have gotten too crowded.
Fair leaders, local agricultural leaders, county leaders and members from University of Idaho extension agencies formed a committee to try and solve the overcrowding problem. The committee felt having to choose one or the other was the best solution.
“I think that the growth in Canyon County is definitely seen," said Jason Tindall, a member of the committee and an FFA advisor at Ridgevue High School in Nampa. "In the past couple years, we’ve seen more students taking advantage of our ag programs and taking advantage of FFA and the fair. So I think the more kids, we got to have room for those kids.”
He said participation in ag programs continues to increase, with Caldwell and Wilder both reinstating their programs, plus Ridgevue starting its program - all within the last year.
According to Canyon County U of I extension, over the last two years nearly one in five exhibitors at the Canyon County Fair have actually been from Ada County.
Some FFA students at Ridgevue High show animals every year and say they see the overcrowding issue too. They all agree that the overcrowding is very hard on the animals and can affect the quality of showmanship.
The students KTVB spoke to all felt the change would be beneficial overall.
“I think it’d be really good because since Canyon County is getting really crowded, overly crowded, it’d give Western Idaho a chance to grow more because they have been dropping with the number of livestock, causing it to be more like a carnival and less agricultural related,” said FFA student Ashlyn Livingston.
“As I’ve been showing for a long time, I realize that Ada County has kind of dwindled in its ag aspects," said Sami Buckley, a junior in the FFA program. "When you go to the fair, all you see is the carnival aspects, the vendors, but not a lot of the community get to see the livestock part because it's gone down a lot.
"So I feel like this split between districts in the fair – Ada County and Canyon County - will help with re-growing and boosting that livestock aspect. I think if done in the right way, I feel like this split will help with equal opportunities for both Ada County and Canyon County showmen.”
“I think it’s a good step in the right direction for both fairs," said Brady Adams, an FFA sophomore. "I think it’ll help get Canyon County where we want it to be, where it’s kind of a balance between Ada County kids and Canyon County kids."
"With them having to choose one, I would predict that most kids will probably come to Canyon County just because sale prices normally tend to be better and Western Idaho does start a lot later in the year when school is starting up for kids," Adams continued. "But I think later on, it’ll have to lead to changes where Ada County kids will have to show at their fair and kids will have to go back to their own counties.”
Tindall said it's actually unique for kids to be able to show at more than one county fair. He said most counties across Idaho, and the nation, only allow them to show at one.