ON THE BLOCK
ROME TOWNSHIP — Six-year-old Teddi Lynn Craft sat with her arms folded Saturday as her big brother, Brandon Craft, led his steer around the ring at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds livestock arena.
“She got attached to this one and she doesn’t want to let it go,” her mom, Tina Craft, explained.
But the reserve champion steer, weighing in at 1,366 pounds, did get sold along with a few hundred other animals that earlier in the week were award contenders in the annual Lawrence County Junior Fair. The livestock auction was Friday and Saturday in Rome Township.
Dalton Russell made his way around the livestock arena Friday night, handing out cards that bore his name and a photograph of himself holding his two rabbits. In the photo, Russell is smiling broadly, almost as broadly as he smiled when he got his chance to stand in front of those bidders a few minutes later. Was he nervous about handing over his rabbits? No. He was ready for the sale. Did he have a price tag in mind, an amount he would like his rabbits to bring? No again.
“Just as long as they go to someone,” he said. In the end, his rabbit did go to someone — it was sold to Lawrence County Coroner Dr. Kurt Hofmann for $275.
Shelby Belville’s grand champion rabbit was sold to Guy’s Floor Covering and Lambert and Davenport law firm for $1,100 — considerably more than what Belville had anticipated.
“I’m very pleased,” Belville said after the sale.
“I would have been happy with $500.
The reserve champion bunny went to the Lawrence County Bar Association at a cost of $1,050.
Ninety rabbits were auctioned off Friday evening. All of them brought at least $200.
That was because Lawrence County Commissioner Les Boggs and Guy’s Floor Covering agreed to jointly provide enough money to boost all rabbit sales to $200 at the end of the rabbit auction. Boosting bids became common practice for the rest of the sale.
Think of it as a really really expensive chicken dinner, minus the mashed potatoes and gravy. Dakota Barnett’s grand champion chicken sold for $1,200 to Joe Freeman and Health Management while Johnathan Keathley’s reserve champion chicken sold for $1,100 to Ohio Valley Bank and Loan Central. These were two of 29 chickens sold at the auction.
All chickens were sold for at least $150. Cooke’s Farm Center, Strobel’s BP, Kirkpatrick Excavating and Guy’s Floor Covering jointly agreed to supplement lower chicken bids, boosting bids to the $150 mark.
Only one feeder steer was sold at auction: that of Jacob Bruce, whose 513-pound bovine sold for $1.50 a pound, or $769, to Aid Township trustee candidate Brian Pancake and Ironton Rehab and Physical Therapy.
Brittany Norris’ lamb seemed to have an opinion about the auction and, it seemed, the opinion was less than positive.
The lamb jumped up a couple of times and bleated as Norris stood with it, listening to the auctioneer take those bids.
In spite of its objections, the 135-pound lamb was sold to the Shelly Company for $3 a pound, or $405. It was one of 14 lambs that were put on the auction block Saturday.
Kelsey Huddle’s 137-pound grand champion lamb sold for $11 a pound, or $1,507 to Ironton Vision Center.
Kendra Saunders’ 131-pound reserve champion lamb sold for the same price, netting her $1,441. The winning bidder for Saunders’ lamb was Cooke’s Farm Center.
“That’s good,” Kendra’s mom, Debbie Saunders said. “Anything over $10….”
Lawrence County Juvenile Probate Judge David Payne agreed to supplement lower bids for lambs to $3 a pound.
Lane Wilson’s grand champion tobacco brought $600 from Stephens and Son Insurance while Stephanie Johnson’s reserve champion tobacco went for $400 to Lee and Lois Cade and family of Maysville, Ky., and the King Berley Warehouse.
Asked if he was pleased with the price his tobacco brought, he replied, “Pretty much.”
There were three tobacco lots sold: the third was that of Josh Johnson, who sold his to the Cades and their warehouse for $225.
Josh Craft’s reserve champion steer, weighing in at 1,338 pounds, sold for $3.60 a pound, or $4,816, to Terry’s Mobile Glass, Spice of Life Catering and Rocky Top Raceway.
Brandon Craft, Josh’s younger brother, sold his 1,366-pound reserve champion steer to Guy’s Floor Covering and Rax restaurant for a $3.50 a pound ($4,781).
Tina Craft said she was pleased with the end result.
“That’s good,” she said. “With the economy so bad and businesses struggling…”
By the end of the day, 34 steers were auctioned off.
Bidders may be after the best deal at the lowest price, but even then, some seem to have an innate sense of fairness. C.J. Spears grand champion goat sold for $8 a pound in the beginning to the Lawrence County Bar Association, but after Ann-Michal Dyer’s reserve champion goat sold to Chapman Printing for $12 ($804), Lawrence County’s attorneys came back with more money, and told Spears they would bring up their bid price to $12 a pound, or $966. What will the attorneys do with their goat?
“I don’t have a clue,” Mark McCown said. Judge David Payne said later the goat would probably be donated to a local charity.
Seventy-four goats were auctioned off Saturday.
Here piggie piggie
Of all the animal categories, market hogs was the largest, with 109 animals for the auction block.
Sammy Myers’ grand champion pig sold for $3,510, or $13 per pound, to Guy’s Floor Covering, Ironton Physical Therapy, Lawrence County Clerk of Courts Michael Patterson, Aid Township trustee candidate Brian Pancake, Lawrence County Commissioner Doug Malone, C&C Grocery, Shannon Payne, Spriggs Distributing, Ken Walls and Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Dale Burcham.
Markie Norris’ reserve champion hog went to R&D Grocery, Giovanni’s of Aid, Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens, Silver Star Fuels, The Dairy Boy and Stephens and Son Insurance.
Owners Club Pigs agreed to boost all $1.25-per-pound pig sales to $1.50 a pound at the end of the hog auction.
A family affair
When her name was called, Hannah Gates came into the arena, her bunny rabbit cuddled carefully in her arms. As the bidders snapped up the rabbit, Grandma stooped just outside the ring and snapped a few photographs.
“We haven’t missed any shows or anything the grandkids have been in,” Janet Shafer explained. “They’ve brought rabbits and chickens, goats, cats. They did photography and welding and cake decorating.”
Shafer was one of many family members who captured their child’s grand finale for memory. The front row of seats on the floor of the arena was a stopping point for those who wanted to snap a shot or offer a smile of encouragement.
Lawrence County businesses made a lot of sales at the fair over the weekend, only this time, they were making the purchases instead of the sales. While some were newcomers to the auction, many of the bidders have been such regular attendees they are known by sight, even without their bid cards.
At one point auctioneer Lee Johnson said Forth’s Food Fair has been “supporting the fair longer than some people have been breathing oxygen.”
Warren Armstead, State Farm Agent, Forth’s Food Fair, Cooke’s Farm Center and Hecla Water, auctioneers frequently pointed out those whose relationship with the fair have been years or even decades old.
Other bidders were political candidates or offices holders and still others were proud family members or supportive friends.
Moments of humor
The bidders may have provide the excitement, but the two auctioneers, Donnie Craft, of Arabia, and Johnson, of Gallia County, provided a little perspective from time to time and some humor.
At the end of the small animal auction Friday, Craft noted that the sale had gone well, considering the recession.
When the lamb auction began, Johnson noted that the opening bid was $8 a pound for a 137-pound animal.
“At $8 a pound that’s a lot cheaper than what the grand champion rabbit went for last night,” Johnson remarked.
When Ironton Municipal Court Judge O. Clark Collins and Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper jointly purchased Lindsay Dickess’ goat, Johnson thanked the two men and then waxed reflective.
“Ever hear of anybody saying ‘thank you’ to a judge? It doesn’t happen very often,” Johnson joked.
To exhort bidders to get on board with the steer auction, Johnson urged, “You’ve only got one grand champion steer. You can have him or your competitor can.”
To exhort bidders to snap up the reserve market hog, Johnson joked, “Don’t forget, you get to have your picture taken with the reserve champion hog.”