Junior Livestock Auction is Saturday at Eagle County Fair and Rodeo
EAGLE – The Eagle County Fair and Rodeo’s annual Junior Livestock Auction takes place Saturday, the culmination of months of hard work by youth participants in the local 4-H program.
The auction will give you a chance to purchase an entire cow, sheep, pig, goat or chicken, which will be butchered for you following the auction.
Rocky Mountain 4-H president Randi Ponce said some auction winners eat their meat, some donate it and some sell it through a buyback program, where a third party purchases the meat at market price.
“Every animal that goes to the auction is put on the truck and is used for meat,” Ponce said.
Ponce raises goats and hogs.
“We feed the animals, we take care of the animals, all the way up to July,” she said.
The animals are then evaluated by livestock judges who ensure that they meet market quality standards before being auctioned off.
Jenny Leonetti with 4-H said the auction has been popular among businesses who see the purchase as a way to get locally sourced meat to their customers, share with employees and even get a little advertising bump.
“They get a picture they can hang up in their business as supporting the Junior Livestock Auction,” Leonetti said.
Kids ages 8 to 18 raise animals for sale in the Junior Livestock Auction.
Some of those animals take only a few months to raise, while others require nearly a year’s worth of work.
“The kids with cattle get their animals in the fall, so it’s a long-term commitment,” Leonetti said.
While some kids raise their animals at their own family farm, other use community barns like the ones in Eagle and Gypsum.
Eagle’s community barn is owned by the county and doubles as the site of the livestock auction.
In Gypsum, the barn itself is owned by the town, and is on private property. Both are managed by 4-H.
Leonetti said demand among youth in the community to use the community barns has grown in recent years.
“The community barns are becoming more and more popular as land is harder to come by,” Leonetti said. “But the majority of our kids are still raising their livestock at their place or a friend’s place.”
‘Taste the difference’
4-H members receive 97% of the proceeds, which they typically invest in next year’s animals, college funds and savings accounts, Leonetti said. The remainder goes to the Junior Livestock Sales Commission to cover the costs of the auction.
“These livestock animals are raised a little differently than the meat you’re buying in the grocery store,” Leonetti said. “You can definitely taste the difference.”
The Junior Livestock Auction will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday and will be preceded by a barbecue in the Eagle River Center, starting at noon. The Eagle River Center is located at the west end of the Eagle County Fairgrounds, near the public parking area. ECO Transit will be providing guests with free shuttle service between the rodeo grounds and the Eagle River Center throughout the event.