Somebody is going to get one heck of a Thanksgiving dinner this year.And to think Troy Carthy, 12, of Gypsum assumed his turkey wouldn’t make the cut for the top prize. Despite stiff competition, his turkey was named grand champion. Even better, Carthy got $650 for the gobbler at Saturday’s Junior Livestock sale at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.”I just didn’t think he was meatier than the others,” Carthy said. Several kids and teens went home with a pleasant surprise Saturday. By all accounts, turnout for the auction was much better than last year, leaving participants with a positive impression on the eve of the fair and rodeo’s closing day. “It’s been an excellent auction,” said Jason Bair, 15, of Gypsum.
The auction had its thrills. The crowd at the livestock barn grew silent and placed hands over their hearts as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung. Too bad a few of the animals didn’t pay similar reverence – a turkey continued to gobble throughout the national anthem. “What he was really saying was, ‘Eat more beef,'” joked auctioneer Les Ohlhauser. Later in the day, a steer tried to rush out of the holding gate so quickly the ruckus tripped up auctioneer Randy Lewis’ rapid-fire call for bids on another animal.But perhaps the biggest excitement of the afternoon was the sale of Bair’s grand champion steer. Bids started slowly, with just a few thousand dollars. At increments of just $100, the sale price crept upward, and by the time the bids reached $7,700, the audience began to cheer. Ohlhauser chattered out $7,800, but the price stood still. He began the count, “going once, going twice … ,” and the bidding seemed to be over. Then someone upped the ante to $7,800. The crowd swooned.And onward the price went, until it seemed to top out again at $8,500. Again, Ohlhauser began the count, and just in the nick of time, Black Bear Real Estate moved the final price up to $8,600, causing the audience to erupt into applause.
“I didn’t expect this,” said Bair, a towering teenager with a polite smile. “Last year the buyers didn’t turn out.”He credits better marketing and simple word-of-mouth for the improved turnout and sales this year. Bair, who has been raising livestock since he was 8, said the livestock sale still gives him a bit of a thrill.”It’s still kind of exciting,” he said. For months he has taken care of the steer, feeding it morning and night. Bair must groom the steer and teach it to allow him to guide it so that it shows well at the fair. Like many of his peers, Bair plans to use the money from the sale for college. Vickie Olson’s rabbit was a little less high maintenance. She began raising him just over the summer. The rabbit, named Spot, needs only some daily food and water. Cleaning out the rabbit’s cage is vital, too, Olson said. Olson also entered a goat into the sale. The goat is a little more work, she said. She has to teach the animal to “show,” that is, allow Olson to walk it. She said she uses a dog leash and collar to train the goat.
Also a veteran 4-H member, Olson said she doesn’t get upset when her livestock is sold.In several cases, companies would purchase an animal only to donate the meat to Eagle County Senior Citizens Center. Jessica Stiles, 17, said sometimes buyers will just give the animal back to the child who raised it. That’s what the buyers of her rabbit did last year. Stiles also doesn’t get attached to the animals she raises, though she does like rabbits. The money is nice, too. “I usually give the money to friends and family,” she said.Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or email@example.com.