More than 100 sales closed Saturday at the lively annual County Fair livestock auction. One of the biggest draws of the fair, it is also the culmination of months of hard work for young 4-H producers.
Madison Sitton, an incoming fifth-grader, was preparing her pig, Rosie, for the crowd a few hours before she went on. Sitton raised Rosie from about 7 months old, and she said it was a little hard to see her go.
"I am a little sad because she really likes it when I rub her belly," she said.
Rosie won the locally bred and fed Reserve Grand Champion award and entered the ring dressed in a pink tutu for her big moment in front of the buyers. She sold for $2,800, matching the auction price of the Grand Champion pig.
The 4-H'ers in the winners circle for market beef were entertaining questions shortly before the sale.
The three steers that brought home top honors were a colorful group of black, red and white and a represented several different breeds.
Dylan Long earned Grand Champion for his black Angus cross. This was the first year the 15-year-old from Lewis showed a steer that he bred himself and the first time he made it into the top three overall for market beef.
"It's not really hard, it's more fun," he said.
Long didn't have any set expectations for the auction, and he said he was happy after his steer sold for $7,500. Steers, in general, bring the highest bids.
"It was great, I can't complain," Long said.
A first-time market beef competitor, Kendall Colcord, 13, won the Reserve Grand Champion for her red Maine-Angou. She said she walked him twice a day for two hours to help him gain weight and took him to other shows so he would be ready. But she said she didn't expect to place so high.
"I was expecting to be high, but not this high," she said.
An experienced competitor, Whitney Finley, 17, won Reserve Grand Champion for in the locally bred and fed category for her white Gelbvieh Angus. Last year, she won grand champion in market beef and this year she showed five cows total and won Grand Champion for her heifer.
She said she takes satisfaction and pride in going through every step of the process including picking the mating pairs.
"I raised them from little babes," she said.
An incoming high school senior, she said plans to attend college in Lamar and major in equine dentistry. She also plans to continue raising cattle.
The fair board worked to extend the appeal of the fair this year beyond 4-H. A greater diversity of events, including a small water park and western performers helped bring in more people, said Tom Hooten the director of the county extension office. Official attendance numbers were not available as of press time.
"By and large, I've heard many positive comments," he said.