Living large at the livestock auction
EAGLE – The proverbial gavel ended bidding, but a Hammer just barely peeking over his 1,400-pound, rust-colored steer soon would be skipping to the bank.Taylor Hammer, 11, earned $9,600 for his prize-winning beef at Saturday’s Junior Livestock Auction at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.Turn-out for the sale appeared lower than last year, yet several of the animals sold to individuals and company representatives for record-breaking amounts. Hammer’s steer topped last year’s winner by $1,000. Auctioneer Les Ohlhauser let the crowd know early on that the auction was all about business. Audience members should think twice before waving to friends across the room, Ohlhauser warned.”If you wave your hand, I’m going to sell you something,” he said. Bidding on Hammer’s steer initially stalled at $5,500, at which point the Burns youngster paraded his animal around the showing area. The price quickly raised as Hammer looked on, sporting a massive grin full of teeth. JLD Davis Construction and Caribou Mountain Development teamed up to buy Hammer’s steer. “We just thought that was the best thing to buy,” said Jeremy Davis, president of the construction company. Others youngsters had similar success. Jeff Cuno, 10, enrolled in the 4-H program just this year and won first place – or Grand Champion – for his rabbit. Later, the Gypsum resident sold the bunny for $575. Before the auction began, Cuno shared some advice.”You just got to feed them a lot,” he said. Veteran 4-H participant Vickie Olson agreed. “You just stick it in a cage and hope it gets fat,” said the 11-year-old Eagle resident, with a giggle.Joking aside, showing an animal in front of a large crowd is nerve-wracking, said Angela Gilvagnoli, 10, of Eagle. In her second year as a 4-H member, she’s developed a way to impress the audience, she said.”Always smile and don’t act like you’re nervous,” Gilvagnoli said. Sisters Jamie and Kacey Bair said they have been showing livestock for years and still get excited for the auction. Each girl raised a steer and a lamb this year. The girls, ages 13 and 14, respectively, said they don’t consider each other competitors. Instead, they practice showing their animals with each other. Like many of the 4-H students who participate in the auction, the Bairs said they’ll use a portion of the money they get to buy another animal. The rest gets socked away for college. Shelby Massie, 12, trained and cared for her lambs, Nacho and Cowboy, since they were weaned at two months of age. Nacho’s fate laid with the auction, while Cowboy would be sold privately in entrepreneurial spirit.”I think I’ll get at least $500 [for Nacho] because I’ve been working really hard with my lambs this year,” said Massie in the pen area beside her 11-year-old sister Emily, who cared for her own two lambs.Turns out 101-pound Nacho fetched $700 from Bill Whittaker of Eagle. Whittaker, whose daughter is involved in 4-H, said his purpose at the auction for the past five years has been to drive up the cost of the animals to benefit the participants.”People don’t like it; that’s why I stay in the back,” Whittaker said. “For me, it’s about the kids that don’t have the support and I try to help those kids.”Sometimes, the gray-haired price inflater ends up paying for his bluff. Whittaker said last year he shelled out $12,000 for various animals.Saturday afternoon was no different.”Got caught on that one,” Whittaker said on his way to pose for a photo with Shelby Massie and Nacho.Staff Writer J.K. Parry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or email@example.com. Vail, Colorado
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