2006 4-H Fair ends with $88,779 raised at annual livestock auction

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A total of 77 different buyers spent $88,779 at Saturday night’s Switzerland County 4-H Fair livestock auction, and auction officials feel that this year’s event was a big success although the number of entries fell from previous years.

The number of different buyers was up from last year, when 70 different buyers participated in the 2005 auction; while last year’s auction produced $89,930. Overall, the number of animals entered in the livestock auction fell from 158 last year to 146 this year — but the total raised at the auction was just $1,151 less even though there were 12 fewer animals.

With 146 animals bringing a total of $88,779, that means that the average price per animal was $608.08. That’s up significantly from the 2005 auction, when 158 animals brought a total of $89,930 — an overall average price per animal being $569.18. At the 2004 livestock auction, the average overall price was $500.64.

So even with fewer animals, thanks to the generous support of businesses and organizations, the average price per animal was up — which means more help for the 4-H member.

The record for the Switzerland County 4-H Fair livestock auction was set in 2000, when the total sale was $125,225. That year, the average price per animal was $485.37 — well under this year’s average price.

There was a great and generous spirit at this year’s auction, as a number of animals saw fast-paced bidding by buyers. The annual barbecue for buyers from last year’s auction was again a success, with the Switzerland County Lions Club doing the cooking. The auction was led again this year by Eric Cole, who — along with a large group of volunteers — kept the event moving smoothly.

Of the seven species sold at the auction each year, this year saw a higher average price over last year’s sale for swine, goats, dairy, and poultry; while the sheep average was nearly identical to last year’s totals. Those gains helped offset falling average prices for rabbits and beef.

The first species in the show arena on Saturday night was the rabbits, and this year Morgan Nay’s Grand Champions were purchase by RS Homes for $400. Last year’s Grand Champions brought a price of $750.

The Reserve Grand Champions were shown again this year by James Bare, and were purchased by K&G Gutters and Roofing for $275. Last year, the Reserve Grand Champions brought $600.

This year there were 22 pairs of rabbits sold at the auction, which was down from 29 pairs last year.

Overall the 22 rabbits brought a total of $4,815, for an average selling price of $218.86. Last year’s rabbits brought an average of $343.39.

Next came the steers, and this year there were 16 in the auction, which was up slightly from the 15 steers that were in the 2005 auction.

Somer Alford had this year’s Grand Champion, and it was purchased by the team of Haskell and Morrison Funeral Home and Carrollton Tobacco Services/Phillip Morris USA for $3,700. Last year’s Grand Champion brought $3,800. The Reserve Grand Champion was shown by Somer’s brother, Mitchell Alford, and it was purchased by Cole Financial Services for $1,675. Last year’s Reserve Grand Champion brought a price of $2,025.

Overall the 16 beef projects brought a total of $26,290, for an average selling price of $1,643.13. Last year the steers averaged $1,964 per head.

As agriculture changes nationally, some elements of family farming are fading away. That has been seen here in Switzerland County not only in the decrease in tobacco farming, but also in the decline of family dairy farms.

The Switzerland County 4-H program has also felt that decline.

At Saturday’s livestock auction, there were just three dairy exhibitors — and all three represented the Hon family dairy farm.

Since dairy cows are far too valuable to sell, Switzerland County dairy exhibitors have created decorative baskets and coolers filled with all types of dairy products for the winning bidder to enjoy.

The Grand Champion this year was shown by Josh Hon, and his project was purchased by Hilltop Basic Resources for $625. Last year’s Grand Champion Dairy project was sold for $400. The Reserve Grand Champion was shown by Amanda Hon, and it was purchased by the Napoleon Locker Plant for $550. In 2005, the Reserve Grand Champion Dairy project was sold for $300.

Overall, there were three dairy projects — down from five a year ago, and those brought a total of $1,525 for an average of $508.33, which was up significantly from the 2005 auction, when the five dairy projects brought an average price of $348.

Next came the pigs, and with 36 swine in the auction, there was a slight rise in the number of entries. Last year, there were 33 pigs up for sale.

The Grand Champion swine was shown by Jonathan Greene, and it was purchased by Hilltop Basic Resources for $1,300. Last year, the Grand Champion swine was sold for $1,400. The Reserve Grand Champion swine was raised by Melisa Raisor, and was purchased for $600 by Hilltop Basic Resources. Last year’s reserve grand champion brought a price of $550.

This year the hogs brought a total price of $25,855, or an average of $718.19. The 4-H members showing swine had to be happy with that average, which is a significant jump from last year’s average of $566.06.

Poultry exhibits were next into the arena, and this year Ray Satterfield’s Grand Champions were purchased by Jeni Scudder, State Farm Insurance for $450. Last year’s Grand Champions brought a price of $425.

The Reserve Grand Champions were shown by Hannah Romans, and they were purchased by Friendship Insurance for $350. Last year’s Reserve Grand Champions brought a price of 325.

Overall there were five poultry exhibits this year, well below last year’s total of 13 exhibits.

This year, those five exhibits brought a total price of $1,735, for an average of $347. The average was well over the 2005 auction, when the average auction price for the poultry exhibits was $259.62; and doubled the 2004 average price of $172.38.

Sheep were next, and there were a total of 13 animals offered for auction, down from 15 last year. The Grand Champion Sheep was shown by Katie Hall, and the combination of The River House Bar and Grill and Granny’s Restaurant was the winning bidder, paying $900. Last year’s Grand Champion brought a price of $800.

The Reserve Grand Champion sheep was raised by Lindsay Scott, and was sold to Brown’s Farm Implement for $775. Last year, the Reserve Grand Champion brought a total price of $875.

Overall the sheep had a total sale of $6,655, bringing an average price of $511.92. That is almost exactly the average price from last year’s auction, which was $511.67.

The final species into the show arena for the 2006 Switzerland County 4-H Fair was also the biggest — with 51 different goats being offered at the auction. This is the second straight year that the goats have been the largest species sold, and this year’s total of 51 is again a rise from the 2005 total of 49. In 2004, there were 43 goats, so the category is continuing to gain momentum among 4-H members.

Mark Chandler’s Grand Champion was sold to Aurora Lumber Company for $550. Last year’s Grand Champion brought $625. Michael Scott had the Reserve Grand Champion goat, and it was purchased by Belterra Casino Resort and Spa for $575. Last year’s reserve was sold for $400.

Overall, there were 51 goats sold for a total of $21,904 — or an average price of $429.49. That was again over last year’s average selling price for goats of $395.61.