After several weeks wondering whether they would be allowed to show their animals at the Kern County Fair, many young livestock exhibitors finally have their answer: no.
In a statement released to media late Wednesday afternoon, Kern County fair CEO Mike Olcott said the California Department of Food & Agriculture denied a request for a variance from state age restrictions for independent exhibitors who wish to show large animals. The county sought to expand eligibility to exhibitors between the ages of 5 and 9 and older exhibitors, ages 19 and 20. State rules say exhibitors in that category must be between the ages of 9 and 19.
Olcott did not answer calls for comment Wednesday, but he previously blamed a misinterpretation of state rules for his decision to allow, for the first time, exhibitors outside the state's age guidelines to compete in that category at the junior livestock exhibit of the Kern County Fair.
Several young exhibitors bought large livestock months ago after hearing the county was going to expand eligibility, only to be disappointed in April when the official county fair rules were released and news of the county/state conflict spread.
In the media release Wednesday, Olcott did report an alternative option. Instead of showing at the fair, exhibitors affected by the rule change will be allowed to show at a special "Octoberfest Show" on Oct. 4. The release said an auction will follow, "provided that there is a sufficient number of independent exhibitors interested in participating/exhibiting."
Those interested in participating in the Octoberfest Show must have their entries in by Friday, May 30.