WAPAKONETA — After months of hard and often dirty work, hundreds of Auglaize County junior fair livestock exhibitors were in for a payday Friday.
The first of two days of the annual livestock sale at the fair kicked off Friday morning, with hundreds of bidders eager to support the area youth. Young junior fair exhibitors who had shown their steers, rabbits and goats lined up to sell their animals starting at 9 a.m. The sale resumes Saturday morning with poultry, swine and sheep on the block.
As bidders huddled outside the sale ring and auctioneers took their places on Friday, Brianna Egbert waited nervously just outside the ring. Dwarfed by her massive grand champion beef steer, the second-year member of the Freyburg Happy Farmers 4-H club said she had worked hard with her steer to get to the top spot in the auction.
“When I first got him, he was new to the area, so I had to work with him and walk with him and teach him how to set up (for the judges) and get him comfortable with me. It was a challenge,” Brianna said.
She said the day, while exciting, came with mixed emotions. “It’s a happy day, but I will be sad when he leaves,” she said.
A few minutes later it was all over. Brianna’s steer sold to a consortium of more than two dozen bidders for the sum of $8,050. Asked what she would do with the money, Brianna answered, “I will save it; I’ll put in in the bank until I go to college, where I hope to get an agriculture degree.”
One of the buyers of Egbert’s champion steer was Alan Davis, owner of Alan Davis Insurance in Wapakoneta. Davis said he comes to the fair annually to purchase animals “to support the kids and the junior fair. These kids work really really hard on their projects.”
Davis said business owners throughout the community join forces each year to purchase animals, noting the co-op approach allows more money to be allocated to the junior fair participants than might otherwise be possible.
“There’s only a certain pot of money that businesses have, but by joining forces we can help a lot of kids,” Davis said.
Ted Miller, owner of Miller’s Corral in Wapakoneta, said he takes part in the annual auction for several reasons.
“My kids were in 4-H, and people were good to them; now it’s my opportunity to give back,” Miller said. “I try to return the favor.”
The businessman said he received more than 100 letters from junior fair livestock exhibitors this year asking for their support. Miller said he joined with other local businesses to purchase approximately 100 animals last year.
While 63 steers shown at this year’s fair were going through the auction process Friday morning, members of the Brackman family — mom Krista and siblings Kaden, Hanna and Leah — were hanging out in the goat barn awaiting their turn. All the kids (the human ones, not the goats) are members of the Prospects 4-H club, comprised of members from the Moulton area.
Kaden exhibited goats for the sixth time at this year’s fair. Leah is a four-year member, and Hanna is in her third year as a junior fair goat exhibitor.
“They learn a lot by doing this,” Krista Brackman said.
Kaden added, “It teaches us responsibility. It’s always a little sad when you sell your animal, but you know it’s coming. It’s always a fun experience with the goats. Any money I make will go toward next year’s animal, and I’ll also save some for college.”
Hanna said walking into the sale ring with her animal is always a little nerve-wracking.
“I get kinda nervous,” she said with a smile.