How to Hold a Stock Show in a Pandemic


As State and local governments make decisions to get their economies functioning again and stay at home orders are lifted the future of large gatherings is still in limbo. Decisions have already been made for some of rural America’s favorite summer activities as some fairs and stock shows get moved to virtual platforms.

Virtual Stock Show is one of the entities that launched during this time of separation and quarantine keeping in mind that its uncertain if fairs and jackpot shows will go on. hopes to function as a substitute for folks across the country who participate in fairs so the show can go on!

Jeff Maynard, founder and CEO of Virtual Stock Show, told Northern Ag Network’s Leif Bakken that he has a software company and auction firm that is agricultural related and he manages a number of livestock shows. So when fairs started to cancel, fair boards reached out asking if something could be put together.

“We decided to get after it and our team got together and built the frame work. We were able to launch really fast so we’re helping fairs and jackpot shows across the United States put on their show virtually as well as their sales, and junior auctions,” Maynard said.


How it Works

The basics of a virtual show are a showman, their project, and a camera.

Once a fair comes on, Virtual Stock Show provides them with a link for exhibitors to go to and upload the videos of their project, under a minute and 30 seconds. They are also provided sample videos giving the gist of what they’re looking for. The exhibitor can then shoot those videos within a week or so of their virtual show.

The video doesn’t have to be complex and can be as simple as shooting it on a cell phone. An exhibitor still has to prepare the animal and show the animal’s best attributes as they would in the show ring to the judge.

“Kids are being offered the opportunity to participate in many virtual shows online and upload videos,” Maynard said. “Some of those shows are saying provide us with a video with no rules or stipulations, other shows have some rules in place.”

Virtual Stock Show offers a verification number that fairs can use to prove the video is current. The exhibitor must show the “entry number” at the beginning of the video, printed or shown on another device.



Typically, the judge would walk around the ring and compare all the animals in the class. Touching the livestock, glance back and forth between animals, and ask questions of the exhibitor to understand the animal and better judge it against the others in the ring. Isn’t that more difficult looking at a video?

Maynard’s answer: “If we think about the way that most individuals, 4-H, FFA, even at the collegiate level, are trained to judge livestock a lot of times it’s via video. And it has been forever. A lot of our judges that are out there were trained using video or understand how to do that.” Jeff goes on to say that they understand it’s not ideal and people would rather be in the show ring and at a fair in a live environment. “A video is the next best thing and it’s a level playing field. If you can’t touch one, you can’t touch the other. The idea is to evaluate them on their physical presence in the video and based on what the video shows.”

Virtual Stock Show also trains the judges on how to use the system so fairs can still use judges of their choice.


How does my fair/show do this?

“Our system is built to be a ‘turn key system’ as far as the entry process, the judging, and if they decided to have a junior auction, we can do that through our system as well,” Maynard explained. “There is a fee associated that is calculated by our system once a fair submits the number of exhibitors and the judges.”

The American Virtual Livestock Show will be the first ever virtual livestock show in the country.

People involved with their fair and show boards can visit for more information and are encouraged to reach out with ideas the Virtual Stock Show team can help execute.


Leif Bakken – Northern Ag Network – 2020

Photo courtesy Virtual Stock Show

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Karen Jernstedt

Hi! We are in rural Oregon and our Coos County Ag Fest was canceled. Annually it is schedualed 1st weekend in May. We typically have a judging/training contest, fitting and showing instructions on all species. 4H and FFA members then can show their projects.

The committee would like to see the expense of doing a virtual jackpot. This will prepare the county if we loose our fair and youth auction.

So numbers: AgFest -With members having no sports, school or other distractions I would plan on 80 to 100 participants in beef, sheep swine and goats.

Our fair is the last week in July and typically have around 200 lots. Our enrollments for fair are due next week and we will see who is still in the program.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x