Routt County youths learn about more than market value at auction | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County youths learn about more than market value at auction

Nicole Inglis

Faith Day, 9, leads Oreo around for one final walk during the market auction Saturday at the Routt County Fair in Hayden. Faith said her favorite part of raising Oreo was training him when he was a calf.

— Greta Thurston sat atop her Grand Champion Market Swine, Rasp­berry, as the pig snoozed in its pen in the Routt County Fairgrounds multipurpose building.

The 10-year-old had tears running down her cheeks as she patted its nose and picked sawdust out of its soft, pink ears.

"It's kind of sad," she said about selling her animals at the annual Junior Livestock Sale at the Routt County Fair after raising them for 10 months. "Just to have them for so long and then having to let them go."

Routt County Extension Agent CJ Mucklow said many children, as they leave the auction ring, aren't thinking about the monetary value of their animals.

"For these kids, (today) will be the toughest day," he said. "It's when they realize that these are market animals and they're really going to market."

About 150 animals were auctioned Saturday night including cattle, lambs, goats, pigs and poultry.

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The funds raised help the children save for college and pay for future 4-H projects.

Many of the parents and fair officials were concerned going into the auction during a recession, Mucklow said, because companies and organizations were tightening their belts as 4-H participation remained strong.

Still, this year's Grand Cham­pion Market Steer, Johnny, raised by Christina Appel, went for $6,250, and Garrett Cam­ill­etti's Reserve Grand Champion steer, Dutch, went for $4,000. In 2009, the Grand and Reserve champions went for $3,800 and $3,100, respectively, according to the Extension Office.

Although Mucklow didn't have exact numbers by press time, he estimated the market beef sale's average to end up at slightly more than $2,000 a head. Last year's average was $2,219.

"It's better than we hoped in this economy," he said. "It's because people support 4-H. People believe strongly in 4-H in this county."

Mucklow, who has seen 21 Routt County fairs, pointed out a young boy, Newt Sherrod, 9, who had tears in his eyes as he dragged his steer out of the ring.

"It's his first year," Mucklow said.

Newt said he named his steer Albert because when he got him 10 months ago, he looked like a "fat Albert."

"It felt really fun," he said about raising steers for the first time. "I'm going to miss him because I like him a lot."

But not all children were worried about their animals heading to the processing plant.

Bryan Muhme, 11 and his older sister, Victoria, 15, spent the year raising barbecue turkeys. The squawking, skittish, bald-headed birds flitted around their cage as the siblings prepared them for auction.

"You have to water them and feed them and put them inside every night because there are skunks and foxes that will eat them," Bryan said about the difficulty of raising turkeys. "We don't name them. We don't want to get attached to them because they're stupid."

"They can be a huge pain in the rear," Victoria added. But the two, who sold their animals first in the show ring, earned $275 each for their efforts.

Around the dust-filled arena, it was difficult to find a 4-H'er who didn't have plans for the future, whether it was college or a career in agriculture.

Appel, who is in her final year of 4-H at age 19, will start her sophomore year Monday at the University of Wyoming, where she's studying to be a veterinarian.

Not only did she raise her Grand Champion steer, she also bred him to her specifications from her own herd.

"It's a pretty amazing feeling," she said. "To have him come out of my own herd and be so successful. I just like how each one's different. He's really curious and likes to sick on his halter. He'll eat just about anything."

Across the barn, Katie Parker was participating in her first Routt County Fair after moving to McCoy last year.

Although she's only 14, she already knows what she wants to do with the skills and responsibility she learned from her steer, Sonic.

"I want to raise cattle," she said. "I just want to sell show cattle to 4-H'ers because it's such a good program."

By the numbers

Routt County Fair Junior Livestock Sale prices

2009

Market beef Grand Champion: $3,800

Market beef Reserve Champion: $3,100

Market beef average price: $2,219

2010

Market beef Grand Champion: $6,250

Market beef Reserve Champion: $4,000

Market beef average price: Estimated $2,000

If you go

Routt County Fair

OA: Outdoor Arena

MPB: Multipurpose Building

EX: Exhibit Hall

F: Field

SAB: Small Animal Barn

T: Track

DC: Dry Creek Park

Today

8 a.m. Exhibit Hall opens

9 a.m. Pretty baby contest (EX)

9 a.m. Chuck Fulton Memorial Open Draft Horse Contest (OA)

10 a.m. Team pull auction (T)

10 a.m. Mayor’s Brownie Contest and Commissioners’ Cookie Basket Contest (EX)

10 a.m. Coloring contest judging (EX)

10:15 a.m. Flat Tops Ranch Supply team pull competition, immediately following the draft horse contest (T)

1:15 p.m. Ranch rodeo team auction (T)

1:30 p.m. Mountain Valley Bank ranch rodeo (OA)

1:30 p.m. Forster Trucking/Tuff Enuff rodeo calf/bull riding (OA)

2 p.m. DeLine Land and Cattle Co./North Forty Fencing mutton bustin’ (T)

2 to 6 p.m. Open class payout, home arts exhibits released (EX)

3 p.m. Adopt-a-pig, immediately following ranch rodeo, pre-entry required

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