Year of the steer

Animal sells for more than $10K for first time at fair


For the first time in Routt County Fair history, a grand champion steer was sold for more than $10,000 at the Junior Livestock Sale.

"To the best of our knowledge, that's the highest price anyone has ever paid for an animal here," Colorado State University Extension Director C.J. Mucklow said at the sale Saturday night.

The award-winning and record-breaking steer named Copenhagen belonged to 13-year-old McCoy resident Morgan Hatfield.

"It's exciting to have had the chance to have owned the top-selling steer in the fair's 91-year history," she said. "I love it."

Hatfield's steer weighed more than 1,300 pounds and was bought by Rick Gabel, a buyer from Fort Worth, Texas, and his partner, Carole Walter Looke, of Houston.

Gabel bought Hatfield's steer last year, as well.

Hatfield calls Gabel her fairy godfather because of how supportive he is of her 4-H livestock endeavors.

"We didn't give a rip what the steer was going to cost. We knew we were going to buy it," Gabel said.

This sale was Gabel's second year buying at the fair. Not only is he Hatfield's fairy godfather, he also is a good family friend, she said.

Gabel was impressed with the steer when he was checking him out before the auction.

"He was probably the best-looking steer I'd ever seen," he said. "He'd give a good run at any fair."

Hatfield plans to put the proceeds from the sale into her college savings account. She wants to attend Texas A&M University to become a veterinarian.

The reserve champion steer sold for $5,400.

Colorado Extension 4-H Agent Jay Whaley said that it is not uncommon for most 4-H youth to use the money they make selling their animals for future education or to reinvest the money in a new animal.

"These buyers are helping these kids to get to college," he said.

Whaley added that more than 80 percent of the funds the youths receive from the sales are put into bank accounts or are somehow invested for their futures, according to a survey the Extension Service did several years ago.

Whaley estimated that there were more than 600 buyers at Saturday's auction, and about 122 animals were sold, including market beef, market lambs, market swine, market goats and a few ducks, turkeys and rabbits.

Whaley said the sale is an opportunity for the 4-H members to show off their livestock and also for the community to purchase Routt County quality and certified products.

"The buyers are good at supporting the kids, because these are the families that support their businesses," he said.

Whaley also said that being involved in the sale and the process of getting an animal ready to go to the fair teaches the youths who participate life skills such as bookkeeping, math skills, responsibility and time management.

"These kids are learning the industry by raising and taking care of animals and then selling them," he said.

Although Whaley said some youths get emotional at the thought of selling their animals, they know that the sale is the reality of the business.

"I'm extremely sad to see him go, because I watched when he was born," Hatfield said. "I watched him grow up."

Even though it is an emotional night, it is also the time for many members to display all of their hard work.

Twelve-year-old Michael Rossi, of Phippsburg, was glad to show and sell his grand champion lamb, Bo Duke.

"My sister had the grand champ two years ago. I've been waiting my turn ever since, and now I got it," he said.

Bo Duke sold for $2,500. The reserve champion lamb sold for $2,000. The grand champion swine sold for $3,100 and the reserve sold for $2,900.


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