OTTAWA — Putnam Junior Fair King Reese Mangas said standing in front of the crowd to see what local businesses will give you for raising a hog can be “kind of odd,” but you have to “be happy with all you get.”
The roughly four-hour Putnam County Junior Fair Livestock Sale stretched throughout Friday morning, and as the day moved along, more and more people flocked to the shade of the show area to find relief from the rising temperatures of the day.
Mangas and Junior Fair Queen Megan Schulte sat on the sidelines and handed out signs to the children lining up to stand in front of the auctioneer’s booth. Schulte herself was able to grab $1,900 for her market beef cow.
“It does pay to be the queen,” the auctioneer remarked.
Schulte later clarified: She wasn’t queen when she made her rounds to local businesses to find support. Her work was done without royal status.
The sale doesn’t actually sell any livestock, although livestock are involved. Many listen to the bouncing auctioneer’s voice from speakers installed in their barn stalls not far from the main action.
Rather, the sale is more of graduation to show off the efforts of the children in 4-H. But instead of caps and gowns, they wear the traditional uniform of cowboy boots, jeans and plaid button-down shirts. Many have spent months raising and feeding livestock, learning the business and teaching the animal how to parade in front of judges.
The specifics of each animal differs. As highschool grad Taylor Roth explained, her angus cow Whiskey is being judged on its shape, the line of its back and the size of its rear end. Show cows, however, have different specifications the judges are looking for.
“They look like a little table,” Roth said.
Taylor has been involved in the livestock sale for the last five years. She attends the fair with her family — aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents and siblings. Since it’s her last year, she plans on passing the torch to her younger sister.
“It’s fun,” her mother, Paula Roth, said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun.”
The specialization of each animal has allowed some families to carve out their niches. Schulte explained that pork competitions tend to be a highly competitive arena in Putnam County, although market beef showdowns bring out some of the best. Top champions in those categories tend to grab thousands of dollars.
Grand champion and reserve champion animals of all categories, however, get a victory lap in front of the auctioneer’s booth and the added benefit of getting recognition in the newspaper.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.