My wife and I are both great supporters of the Junior Livestock Auctions held at local fairs. Recently we attended the pig auction at the Sonoma County Fair.
4-H, FFA and independent junior members purchase animals in the spring. They need to buy feed, and house and care for them. They wash, comb, trim and tame the animal every day leading up to the fair. The animal becomes like a member of the household, even given pet names. When the fair comes, they show the animal, it’s judged, then they are given a number for the auction sale. A picture is taken of the exhibitor with their animal to be shown on a big screen while their animal is actioned off.
The Junior Livestock Auction is run by some of the most dedicated individual’s we have had the pleasure of knowing. The Auction Solicitors spend hours contacting businesses and individuals about purchasing animals at the auction. The price the buyers pay is about 10 times the price of market value. Buyers have the option of reselling the animals or keeping the meat. If you keep the meat, you need to select a butcher shop where they will cut and wrap the meat the way you want.
We wanted to purchase just half a pig. That meant that the Auction Solicitor who was going to purchase an animal for us had to find another buyer who wanted the other half. And in addition, the other buyer needed to use the same butcher shop we did. This takes a lot of coordination. So, on auction day we trotted down to the fair to watch the pig auction. The auctioneer was Rex Williams, a seasoned past exhibitor at the fair who knows the audience well. This year the price was bid per animal rather than by the pound. Lot number one came up. A picture of the young seller with the animal was put up on a screen. They always start with the Champion animals first. The Solicitors began bidding for their list of potential buyers. Sometime later in the day we heard our name called as a buyer of a pig, along with the name of who bought the other half. The pig had sold for $2600. That meant our half was $1300. All good and well. We looked at the program and saw that the seller was from Elsie Allen High School. That was all well and good since I sit on the Elsie Allen FFA Booster Committee.
Shirley donated the meat to a church that feed homeless, but I held out for the pig’s feet. So when all was said and done, I got 2 pig’s feet for around $1500, including all the processing charges.
But the best part came in the mail yesterday. It was two pictures of a young FFA member showing her pig at the fair, and a thank you letter from Leslie Pagua. It was her first year showing a market pig at the fair, and she says it will not be her last.
It won’t be our last year at the auction either.