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Butler County fair streamed
By Celeste Baumgartner
Ohio Correspondent

HAMILTON, Ohio – It was a strange year for fairs. Justin Beckner was feeling bad. Because of COVID-19, his grandparents wouldn’t be able to watch him show his pigs or perform his duties as Butler County Fair King (Queen was Kristianna Bright). Beckner is aging out of 4-H and FFA and this year was his last. Then he had an idea.
“I hopped on Facebook, and there is a thing you can take a live video, and anybody can watch,” Beckner said. “I’d heard about it before, but I’d never done it. Both sets of grandparents know how to work Facebook, so let’s see if I can figure out how to do it.”
Beckner had an old car phone holder that was sort like a tripod. He found a little crack in the show barn wall. If he put his cellphone in the tripod, stuck the arm of the tripod in that crack, he could get a shot of the entire show ring.
“My grandparents were so happy they could see me show,” Beckner said. “That was the main reason for doing it. But everybody else was in the same situation; they didn’t necessarily have the capability or didn’t have somebody there to enable them to tune in. It blew up a little bit after that.”
Suddenly all of the fair participants wanted Justin to live stream their events. Because he was the fair king, he was there all the time. He began recording all of the species.
The grandparents, Margy and Russ Beckner, of Somerville, Ohio, and Pamela and Terry Strayer, of White Oak, Ohio, got to watch as Justin won Reserve Champion with his pig, and his brother, Ryland, took Grand Champion.
That was a funny turn of events. In the spring, both brothers picked pigs from the same pen. They flipped a coin to see who got first choice. Justin won the toss, but Ryland won in the show. “Just a little sibling rivalry,” Justin said.
“We didn’t know we’d be able to watch them show,” said Russ Beckner, Justin’s grandfather. We watched most days.”
Margie Sauerland, a good friend of theirs, phoned and asked them to thank Justin. She was able to watch her great-grandchildren show cattle.
It wasn’t just grandparents who were appreciative. As a kid, Corey Robinson was in 4-H and FFA. He attends the fair every year. It’s part of his life, he said. He was able to watch it this year because of Beckner’s live streaming.
“Justin provided a service that a lot of people took advantage of and appreciated,” Robinson said. “He was able to see that there was a need. He used his resources and his knowledge to fill that need. His generation is so familiar with that technology that they know how to make things happen. It was awesome to see.”
Those classes are still available to view. By visiting “In Pursuit Show Feeds, Facebook,” and clicking on “videos,” all of the fair videos are available (In Pursuit Show Feeds is a company that Beckner started).
“Personally, I know I will go back and watch how I showed,” Beckner said. “In the moment, you don’t know what you did, but when you can watch it, you can see. I’ll be doing that. It was really cool to watch the community come together, even those who were watching from afar.”