Hayden When Yampa resident Kelsey Samuelson first set her eyes on Fonzie the steer, she knew he was destined for greatness.
Fonzie lived up to Samuelson's expectations and was sold as Grand Champion Market Steer for $5,100 at Saturday night's 4-H Junior Livestock Sale at the Routt County Fair in Hayden.
More surprising than winning was the fact that this year was the first time Samuelson had ever worked with a steer.
"This is all very exciting for me considering this was my first year doing this," she said. "When I picked him out, I was guessing he'd do well, I just didn't know he'd do this well. I was surprised."
McCoy resident Morgan Hatfield's steer took reserve grand champion. Last year, Hatfield's steer, Copenhagen, was grand champion and raked in a record-setting $10,200 at the livestock sale.
Hatfield said she wasn't expecting anything near that this year, and was just glad to be back with a title.
"Everything has been great. I just wanted to return with a title this year, and it paid off," she said.
Hatfield's steer, which she introduced as "my college tuition," was sold for $4,500.
Taking reserve grand champion was more than enough for Hatfield, especially since the fair seemed extremely competitive this year, she said.
"It was the most competitive fair I've ever been in in Routt County. It was a really tough fair," she said. "There were a lot of really good steers."
Colorado State University Extension Director C.J. Mucklow said Saturday's fair was "going great" and that he was very proud of all the 4-H members that participated.
"I think everyone is doing just great. Any time you can get kids out there selling their animals for 10 times their market price, it's great," he said.
Mucklow said he was "not at all" disappointed that there were not record shattering sales Saturday night.
"It's not all about that. These kids are learning responsibility by raising and showing their own animals, and they are being rewarded for all of their hard work at this sale," he said.
The hardest part of the sale for some of the 4-H members is watching their animal being hauled away Sunday morning, he said.
"For the brand new kids, for the sensitive kids or for the smaller kids, it's very hard to part with their animal," he said. "But it's what we do. They know what they're doing."
Samuelson said selling Fonzie was going to be tough, as she likened their relationship to a close friendship.
"For this being my first year, yeah, it's going to be tough. He's taught me a lot, and I've taught him a lot. It was a good learning experience," she said. "But I guess there's a first time for everything."
Another first-time participant entered Routt County's grand champion swine, Hula.
Steamboat Springs resident Mariah Hoots, 9, said she was shocked to find her sow had won grand champion, especially since she had never done it before.
"It kind of came out of nowhere," she said. "I'm very happy with what I got."
Hoots credits Hula's big win to her musculature.
"You don't want your pig to be fat. People think pigs are supposed to be fat, but they're not," she said. "The point is for them to have some muscle."
Hoots said she put some muscle on Hula by walking her everyday.
"Just like a dog," she added.
A first-time participant also entered the reserve grand champion swine.
Phippsburg resident Misty Richmond, 11, said raising her hog was "in the middle" of being difficult and easy, but that she was already planning to enter another pig next year.
"This was my first time and all so I was really surprised when I won. I really had no expectations," she said.
Though many of Saturday's champs were green, Clark resident Catharine Koroulis has been showing market lambs for so many years that she knew what to present.
Her lamb, Napoleon Dynamite, sold for $2,600.
"I had hoped he was a winner, but you never really know. All you can do is sort of cross your fingers and hope for the best," she said. "I knew he was good, I just wasn't sure if he was good enough."
In 2005, the average steer sold for $3,810, and the grand champion sold for $10,200. The average lamb sold for $1,263, and the grand champions sold for $2,500.
The average hog sold for $1,723, and the grand champion sold for $3,100. The average goat sold for $525, and the grand champion sold for $500.
-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org