Geauga County relies on core group of buyers

BURTON, Ohio – It was a new year with an entirely new set of winners at this year’s Geauga County Fair junior livestock sale.
But although the winners’ faces were different, the buyers remained the same: Etna Products Inc., Geauga County Farm Bureau, Preston Chevrolet, Pritt Concessions, Middlefield Banking.
This core of buyers, along with many others, helped fill the stands Sept. 3 and left many champion exhibitors going home with more than last year.
Steers. Although the champion steer sold for $6 a pound, the sale struggled.
Auctioneer Jonathan Polcen quickly took a bid for $5 a pound and then $6, but despite Polcen’s best efforts to talk the price up, bidders were silent until the gavel finally fell.
“With so many people in here, there should be bidding all over,” he said to the packed sale barn, but Grace Geothermal’s $6-a-pound wager remained uncontested.
That bid for Andrea Adams’ 1,335-pound champion steer fell by $2 a pound from last year’s winner.
Bidding was more lively for Mary Schmelzer’s 1,360-pound glitter-covered reserve champion, although the final bid was lower. Etna Products Inc. paid $3.80 a pound for the second-place steer, compared to last year’s $2.70 a pound.
Forty-four steers were sold.
Ten-dollar hog. For the fourth year in a row, Etna Products Inc. bought the champion hog, but this year it was Danielle Finkler’s 244-pound pig and the price was $10 a pound. The price was up a dollar from last year.
Middlefield Banking Company continued its support in the hog sale by putting down a $7-a-pound bid for James Teichman’s 267-pound reserve champion hog, which equaled last year’s price.
Hog numbers hit 111 head, compared to 106 last year.
Goat sale. The Boer meat goats got all the attention at this year’s goat sale. Both grand and reserve champions doubled last year’s prices.
Geauga Vision first bought Tyler Lestock’s 72-pound champion for $18 a pound.
Then, Geauga County Farm Bureau paid $10 a pound, compared to last year’s $4, for Bill Ketring’s 59-pound reserve champ Boer goat.
The rest of the goat sale didn’t fare as well. Joseph Amick’s 78-pound grand champion non-Boer goat sold for $5.50 a pound. That bid came from Kinetico Inc. and was less than half of last year’s winner.
T.J. Nolin, known for his champion goats, took reserve honors. Pritt Concessions paid $3.25 for the 67-pound goat.
Six Boer meat goats and five other breed goats sold.
Lambs and Preston. Preston Chevrolet paid $10.50 a pound for last year’s champion lamb and $6 a pound for the reserve. This year it kept up its support by purchasing both, but got off a bit easier on the wallet.
First, it bought Jack Carson’s 131-pound champion for $5.70 a pound and then picked up Dusty Powell’s 125-pound reserve champ for $5 a pound.
Nicole Wildman’s 246-pound champion pen of two lambs sold for $2 a pound to Etna Products Inc..
Insurance Diversified beat that with a $2.60-a-pound price for Holly Carson’s 248-pound reserve champion pen of two lambs.
Fifty lambs were sold, compared to 38 last year.
Turkey numbers. Auctioneer Scott Mihalic sounded half-joking when he asked for a $25-a-pound bid to start the turkey sale, but Geauga County Farm Bureau’s Mark Solomon grinned and raised his number.
Bids flew between him and Grace Geothermal before the gavel fell at $36 a pound for the champion gobbler, with Farm Bureau being the winner.
The 44-pound champion turkey’s exhibitor John Adams pledged to donate 10 percent to Hurricane Katrina victims.
Isaiah Anderson and his 30-pound reserve champion turkey came into the ring next and left with $14 a pound from Appellate Judge Diane Grendell and state Sen. Tim Grendell. That price was up from last year’s $10 winning bid.
Both bids, however, fell short of the $38-a-pound price Debbie Armstrong later paid for family friend Ricky Kotwica’s 23-pound bird.
Forty-four turkeys were sold, up from 36 last year.
Duck sale. And if the crowd thought the turkey sale was exciting, it wasn’t anything compared to the duck sale where Auctioneer Mike Davis’ voice could barely be heard over the clapping and hollering.
With several people hopping into the bidding from time to time, it finally ended with Auctioneer Scott Mihalic’s record-doubling bid of $220 a pound for Benjamin Bruening’s 7.2-pound champion duck.
With the crowd still on a high, Lance Wildman came in the ring with his 7-pound reserve champion duck. After more spirited bidding, Georgette Baliga paid $80 a pound for the duck.
Last year’s champion ducks brought $60 and $50 a pound, respectively.
Thirty-nine ducks were sold.
Pritt’s rabbits. As usual, Pritt Concessions paid big bucks for rabbits. The ever-faithful champion rabbit buyer paid $40 a pound for Matthew Carver’s 12.25-pound pen. Last year, Art Pritt set the record at $61 a pound.
Although the champion pen price was down, reserve was up. Healthy Deposits paid $31 a pound for Larry Pohto’s 12.5-pound reserve pen, up $5 a pound from last year.
Eleven pens were sold.
Chickens, donations. Bidding was hot for Paul Miller’s 21.3-pound champion chicken pen, especially after the bids hit $25 a pound and Miller said he’d be donating 50 percent of everything he received from that point on to Hurricane Katrina victims. The crowd responded by raising their hands until the price hit $50 a pound. Middlefield Banking Company was the one paying this unofficial record.
Next in the ring was Aaron Rumberg and this time it was Chad and Jamie Pearce blowing away last year’s bids. The couple paid $42.50 a pound for the reserve champion pen, more than doubling last year’s $20-a-pound price.
Twenty chicken pens were sold.
More to sell. Dairy baskets were another hit this year, with three dairy 4-H clubs selling them. The three baskets added $4,000 to the overall sale total, compared to $3,350 last year.
Auctioneers for the sale were Pete Howes, Scott Mihalic, Mike Davis, and Jonathan Polcen. Helping as ringmen were Doug Carlson and Jason Matthews.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at khebert@farmanddairy.com.)

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