The annual livestock auction at the Warren County Fair is always an enthusiastic time for supporters of community 4-H and FFA youth. Hundreds of people crowd into the fairgrounds livestock pavilion to compete to pay the highest price for animals shown during the Fair.

This year, that crowd of people is paying almost $275,000 to the young Fair exhibitors, smashing previous records.

“It’s a little mind-boggling,” commented livestock coordinator Franci Schwartz, who said the auction had several new buyers this year, or buyers who hadn’t participated recently but came back for this auction.

The livestock auction is a time for members of local youth agricultural programs to showcase and sell some of the best animals at the Fair each year. Young handlers lead their animals into a pen for buyers to see, everything from rabbits to 1,300-pound cattle.

Almost 160 exhibitors sold animals at the auction this year, up slightly from 2018.

The buyers, for their part, come out for a bit of excitement and to be part of a supportive community. Many represent businesses and use the auction as a form of advertising to local ag producers, or are related to the exhibitors Schwartz said. For some, winning a bid is almost like a sport.

“I think people get a big kick out of that,” Schwartz said.

The event this year was well attended, despite being on Fourth of July and despite heavy rain earlier in the day.

Animals purchased at the auction are processed for meat, but some are allowed to remain with their exhibitors by request.

When buyers allow exhibitors to keep their animals, they get a steep discount to their original bids and the remainder of the bid goes as a donation to the exhibitor. Before the discount, the total bids this year amounted to over $292,000, far surpassing 2018’s $254,000 total bids.

The actual exhibitor income, totaling $275,000 after the discounts, is around $48,000 more than exhibitors took home last year.

All of the money stays with the kids showing the animals, Schwartz said. A lot of them use that money for savings, college, a car, or investing in their animals for next year.

This is the ninth straight year in which each auction has broken the previous record for total bids.

Each exhibitor is allowed to sell one animal at the auction, even if they showed more than one during the Fair. The animals tend to sell at much higher than market value, averaging anywhere from three to 10 times that value, according to information from the auction.

These are the exhibitors whose animals received the highest bids this year in each animal category:

• Brock Banze’s steer auctioned for $9,170;

• Tate Mikus’ grand champion swine auctioned for $2,162;

• Isabella Miller’s goat auctioned for $1,382;

• William Lee’s sheep auctioned for $2,242;

• Jack Scruggs’ grand champion chicken auctioned for $1,000; and

• Braden Gerland’s rabbit auctioned for $2,600.

Auction organizers this year also wanted to recognize the tremendous contributions of the local buyers who participate. They published a list of the top 20 buyers this year, most of which are local or regional businesses.

All of the top buyers paid more than $4,000 each for one or more animals, with some paying more than double or triple that amount. In total the 20 biggest buyers paid almost $142,000.

The top five accounted for over $52,000 of that.

Below are the top five auction buyers who purchased one or more animals, along with their contribution amounts (after discounts).

• Marschel Wrecking — $15,332.92

• Hermann Veterinary Clinic — $10,022.20

• Davis Meat Processing — $9,417.50

• Cornerstone Companies — $9,170

• Heggemann Inc. — $8,459

Livestock shows grow

The livestock shows, in which exhibitors display their animals for an expert judge to rank, has seen an increasing number of animals in recent years, Schwartz said. There are significantly more goats, rabbits and chickens being shown, putting a new extension at the livestock barn to use. There was a very slight decline in cattle, swine and sheep, Schwartz said.

It takes a dedicated group of volunteers to get the Fair and the livestock shows organized, so set up for them and run them.

“I don’t know what I would do without all the volunteers,” Schwartz commented. “I always appreciate the whole community and everyone who supports the kids.

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