Hailey Maggy, although only 9, is experienced with livestock. A member of Abbie 4-H Club, she raised two steers this year: Dylan, the son of a cow she showed at age 2; and Johnny, who was named Supreme Champion Market Beef last week at the fair's virtual Livestock Show and Auction.
"I have been in Abbie 4-H for three years," Hailey said. "This is my first year showing market animals at the Alameda County Fair."
Hailey lives with her mom Breanne, grandparents Suzette and Robert Maggy, and her great-grandmother on 7 acres in the rural northern part of Pleasanton and attends Tassajara Hills Elementary School.
"We just moved here a year and a half ago," Breanne Maggy said. "We have 20 head of cattle right now."
Breanne, who grew up in town in Pleasanton and graduated from Amador Valley High, started with Abbie 4-H when she was Hailey's age after she went horseback riding at a YMCA camp and became enamored with horses.
"It's really cool because the animals she shows now back up to the first I ever showed in 2000," Breanne said. "Honey, the one she showed when she was 2, is the daughter of the very first show cow I had, Belle."
Hailey has been showing her cattle all over the state the last nine months and even made a road trip to Oregon for the Klamath Jackpot, a steer and heifer show. When things went virtual, Hailey began to enter shows all over the country.
"In one virtual show I won showmanship," she said.
When the 2020 Alameda County Fair was canceled in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff members began working with local 4-H and FFA leaders on plans to continue the Livestock Show and Auction. Exhibitors of large market animals -- sheep, goats, pigs and steer -- were able to upload pictures and videos of their animals to the fair website, and they were categorized by weight before virtual judging began and the auction was held July 12.
"The fair team is thrilled to offer the virtual auction to 4-H and FFA exhibitors," Fair CEO Jerome Hoban said. "Agriculture is the foundation of county fairs across the nation, the virtual auction helps exhibitors complete their projects."
More than 700 bidders registered, an increase of 40% over 2019.
Normally steers are sold by their weight, which runs from 1,000 to 1,300 pounds, at about $4 per pound, Breanne explained. With the virtual auction, the animals were sold "by the lot," or for a flat price.
"Johnny went for $6,500," she said, "and we also had $1,750 in add-ons -- if somebody just wants to support the project, they can do an add-on."
The fair takes a small percentage to help run the auction, but most of the money goes back to the 4-H member who raised the animal.
Hailey paid $1,500 for Johnny last fall; she is putting her profits toward purchasing other animals and buying necessary equipment.
This year Hailey also raised a market goat she named Jesse James.
"I was able to be there when he was born, and even helped delivering some of his siblings," Hailey said. "It was so exciting."
Two other Abbie 4-H members won awards, for their hogs: Grace Olguin won Champion Yorkshire Market Hog, and Heath Cowan won Champion Berkshire Market Hog.
Saying goodbye to their livestock is a little difficult, Breanne said, but 4-H members go into the project knowing they are raising an animal for market.
"They get to learn so much about responsibility, and where their food comes from, and what it takes to produce it," she added.