Animals, handlers say goodbye at Junior Livestock Sale
All eyes were on Andrea Maneotis and her pig, Chicken on a Chain.
She tapped the pig lightly with her show stick as the white-shirted ring men called out bids, and the driving cadence of the auctioneer’s voice rang out across the pale sawdust of the ring.
Glitter and excitement swirled in the air in the livestock barn, but Andrea had tears in her eyes as she led her animal back to have its picture taken with its new owner.
“She was just so nice,” she said about her favorite pig. “She really liked to eat marshmallows.”
Since April, Andrea has walked her pig every night after dark to give her the exercise she needed.
Every animal that graced the ring Saturday night at the 2009 Moffat County Fair’s 4-H and FFA Junior Livestock Sale represented time spent and emotions invested.
Some took a business-like approach to selling their animals, but a few animals leave their mark on the children who raised them and cared for them.
“I just like all their personalities,” Andrea said. “It depends on how much you like them, but I’ll always remember her.”
This year’s sale featured 118 lots of steers, goats, sheep, swine and small animals like rabbits and chickens.
Each animal was dressed to look their best, many sporting glitter, lavender ribbons and even daisies pressed into their fluffy coats.
Four-H and FFA members walked around their steers spraying adhesive or black paint on their fur to make them stand out and tying ribbons to their tails.
The sellers made sure to groom themselves, as well, many wearing their best cowboy hats and buckles they’d won throughout the week.
The sale began at 6:30 p.m. with a memorial to Franklin “Pud” Stetson, who died this year from cancer.
Andrea said Stetson always was a presence at the fair, helping the children get their animals sold as a ring man.
“He was always helping,” she said. “No matter how well you did, he always had a smile on his face.”
Andrea donated $200 from the sale of her animals to a memorial fund in Stetson’s honor.
Although Stetson’s absence had a clear impact on the sale, the atmosphere was generally joyful.
But 13-year-old Brice White was feeling a bittersweet sadness as she worked to get the adhesive off her steer, Titanium, before he left with his new owner to be processed.
“We’re selling them to go and be killed,” she said. “It’s just sad. You don’t really think about it a lot while you’re working with them. I like showing a lot, but I don’t really like sale night.”
She said Titanium and the smoky-colored Stainless helped her and her brother, Stetson, win their first buckles.
Stetson and Stainless won first and Brice and her steer, Seven, won third in their Market Beef class.
“I’ll always remember these ones,” Brice said. “They’re like friends; they listen to you. And they never really get angry with you.”
On the other hand, Brice said she sees the joy of the buyers.
“It’s nice because you get to see people happy,” she said. “I guess it’s good because they get food.”
But Stetson was all business, even though he called Stainless the “best steer I’ve ever had.”
“I’ll miss them until we get the next ones,” he said with a shrug, right before he led Stainless into the ring.
Stainless, although a unique white color, sold for $2.65 per pound. The grand champion steer, handled by Call Camblin, went for $4.10 per pound.
But, the prices seemed generally lower than last year’s average of $3.10 per pound.
Final averages for this year weren’t available, however, Moffat County High School agriculture teacher John Haddan said there was a noticeable drop.
“In the past few years, the community has been really generous with what they’re offering,” he said. “But with the economy the way it is, this is a great dose of reality for the kids.”
Despite the difficulty in giving up their animals or disappointment in their sale, Haddan thinks 4-H and FFA will continue to be relevant to children in the community.
“The leadership skills they learn here are unbelievable,” he said. “And that’s the important thing.”
Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or email@example.com
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