Competitors will not get the chance to exhibit poultry at this year’s Illinois State Fair, as the Department of Agriculture announced the postponement of the junior and open live shows as a result of ongoing concerns about avian flu.
Instead, competitors in the junior exhibition category will be able to compete through a “virtual poster” competition, with the entry deadline set for July 15.
According to a press release, IDOA officials said that the decision was made as a result of a highly-infectious strain of avian flu that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of birds, both domestic and wild, in the state of Illinois and across the United States.
“The department works year-round to promote biosecurity for all livestock producers,” State Veterinarian Dr. Mark Ernst said in a statement. “With the current situation, it remains important for all of us to be responsible and protect against the spread of avian influenza during the Illinois State Fair and county fairs.”
The virtual format has already been in use at county fairs exhibiting 4-H junior poultry shows, and state officials say that those competitions will remain virtual as a result of the bird flu epidemic.
The IDOA issued emergency rules earlier this year that prohibits the sale or exhibition of poultry and poultry products at swap meets, flea markets and auction markets throughout the state.
Bird flu has caused deaths both in domestic production, wiping out flocks of poultry on farms across the country, and in wild populations, with die-offs reported among waterfowl in various parts of the state.