No birds this year at the Central Washington State Fair

YAKIMA, WA – Avian Influenza, or Bird Flu has been quickly spreading across the state and this year and many state fairs have not taken the Washington State Veterinarian recommendations lightly and decided not to have birds in person.

Recently, The Washington State Veterinarian Dr. Amber Itle recommended the suspension of exhibitions, fairs, and poultry sales until 30 days after the last detection of HPAI or Bird Flu in the state to prevent further spread.

“If the flock tests positive then the entire flock is euthanized,” said Amber Betts the media relations coordinator for the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Bird flu has been sweeping across the country over the last 5 months.

“This virus is wildly contagious and so not only are they almost guaranteed to all get it,” Betts said. “It’s a terrible way to die.”

Since we had such a cool spring and beginning of summer, many of the geese who usually don’t stick around in our region at this time, have this year.

“The geese didn’t migrate as far as they should have and so they ended up kind of hatching out their goslings here,” said Betts.

That has led to wild birds spreading the virus across Washington. That’s why the Department of Agriculture is recommending fairs not have birds this year.

“The safest way is just not to do it,” Betts said. “Skip it this year, take it virtual, protect your flock.”

That’s why the Central Washington State Fair is not having any birds or competitions with birds in person this year, but they don’t want to take out the entire poultry barn.

“It’s really just now about education giving the youth an opportunity to, you know, continue their journey as they were raising and preparing for fair,” said Kathy Kramer the President and CEO of Yakima State Fair Park. “Now we’re just taking a little detour.”

Children who were going to bring their birds to the fair instead can bring a printed picture of their bird, and talk about raising their flock for educational purposes.

“The last thing we wanted to do was just close that barn and not have any activities,” Kramer said.

Kramer told me the fair wanted to keep everyone safe while still incorporating the hard work people have done in the past year with their birds, that’s how they came up with the educational aspect.

“You know it’s amazing when you put your heads together how creative you can get,” said Kramer. “And still keep everyone safe.”

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