Darkness doesn’t deter buyers at Jefferson County livestock auction

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SMITHFIELD, Ohio – Four-H’ers in Jefferson County probably plan on fair-week rain as much as they’ve come to plan on Kyleigh DeFrank bringing at least one champion livestock project.
When the 15-year-old showed up with both the champion market lamb and steer this year, they should have known they were in for a treat.
Stories of the 2005 livestock auction are ones that will be retold for generations, especially by lamb club members.
Could it be? The junior fair’s livestock sale was set to kickoff at noon Aug. 20 under mostly clear skies and 90-degree sunshine.
To the delight of many exhibitors, there hadn’t been any rain all week. The sale went on.
But Mother Nature decided not to disappoint all those 4-H’ers who came to equate their fair show days with a soggy fairgrounds.
Buyer’s treat. It was unclear whether the ominous clouds moving in overhead or the promise of free food helped pack the sale arena at Friendship Park during the late afternoon buyers’ picnic.
But one thing quickly became clear: If you were already under the arena’s roof, you probably weren’t leaving anytime soon.
Auctioneer Jayme Gandee took the stand to sell Kyleigh DeFrank’s 135-pound champion market lamb, but his bid collection was muffled more than once by thunder. Gandee kept on, begging buyers to help him reach the $15.50 per pound record, but it seems buyers were more concerned about looking toward the darkening sky than looking toward the sale ring.
DeFrank’s champion started at $2 and stalled at the $3 mark, then sputtered by quarters onward, until it brought $5.25 per pound from Cardinal Operating Company.
The bidding was no better when DeFrank’s brother, Branden, took the ring next with his 139-pound reserve champion. Gandee pushed and prodded for all bids, climbing only by quarters to the top bid of $4.25 per pound from Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Tom Straus.
And that’s when the show got a little more interesting.
Highlights. The third-place lamb shown by Brittany Vargo came and went, and Frankie Rogers sold his fourth-place lamb. The clouds and thunder gave one last threatening scream, stopping auctioneer Gandee for a few moments while he waited for the noise to pass before taking the final bid on Rogers’ lamb.
Rogers came back into the ring with his second lamb – the fifth-place overall – and the skies opened relentlessly.
Onlookers on the arena’s west side scurried off the bleachers and toward the sale ring to escape the blowing rain. Gandee kept calling the bids, but when he hit the $1.50 mark, the arena’s lights went out.
The auctioneer’s microphone still worked, but the man stopped the sale for nearly five minutes to let the initial shock pass.
Gandee pushed ahead, calling for the audience to quiet down and taking voice bids from an audience he could barely see from the sale ring.
Frankie Rogers’ lamb eventually brought $1.60 a pound, and the next three lambs in the sale lineup sold in darkness.
A half-hour later, the sale committee had restored power. The worst part of the storm had passed and the lights stayed on for the rest of the evening’s sale.
Sale receipts totaled $150,192, down nearly $18,000 from last year.
Thirty-five lambs averaged $1.98 per pound with champions and $1.80 without.
The outstanding lamb exhibitor was Brooke Piergallini. The award is based on the young person’s combined skillathon, showmanship and market class placings.
Showmanship winners were Piergallini, junior; Tiffany Ruckman, intermediate, and Kyleigh DeFrank, senior and supreme.
Steers. Kyleigh DeFrank was back in the sale’s champion ranks with her 1,262-pound champion steer.
DeFrank also showed the champion steers in 2002 and 2003.
Perennial buyer Biggio Ford Mercury Lincoln Toyota traded bids with Jefferson Landmark and Allen Oil/Quik Mart, but the car dealership stopped short of the high bid of $3.50 per pound.
Undaunted, Biggio again raised the bidder’s card for Tyler Ramsey’s 1,382-pound reserve champion steer. Biggio pulled away from contending bidder Kuester Implement to take home the second-place steer for $2.75 per pound.
Both bids were a far cry from the record $7.50 bid. Thirty-eight steers averaged $1.48 per pound with champions and $1.39 without.
Outstanding beef exhibitor was Harley Ehrman. Showmanship winners were Branden DeFrank, junior; Keirsten Harris, intermediate; and Kyleigh DeFrank, senior and supreme.
Hogs. A toothy-grinned Graceon Ehrman sported pigtails with turquoise ribbons when she brought her champion market hog to the sale ring.
Bidding started slowly for the 273-pound bluebutt gilt, inching higher with each nod from bidders Scassa Asphalt and Riesbeck’s Market.
Auctioneer Rick Sponhaltz stopped around the $8 mark to ask bidders to break the record of $8.25 per pound posted on an arena billboard. Applause broke out when the bidders passed that mark, and Scassa eventually rested at $9 per pound.
But it seems the sale committee never updated that billboard from last year’s sale, when Ehrman’s brother, Harley, fetched the true record of $13 per pound.
It was no record, but Graceon Ehrman was still smiling on her first-year finish.
Cody Gavorcik’s 285-pound reserve champion earned $5 a pound from Riesbeck’s Market.
The auction featured 142 hogs with sales averaging $1.59 per pound with champions and $1.51 without.
Outstanding hog exhibitor and junior showmanship winner was Graceon Ehrman. Other showmanship winners were Gavorcik, intermediate and supreme; and Josh McConnell, senior.
Feeders. Again cousins Jeff and James Wood reigned in the beef feeder contests.
Jeff Wood raised the champion heifer, and James Wood raise the champion feeder steer. Both boys decided not to sell their projects.
The boys received $50 savings bonds from the county’s cattlemen’s association.
Six feeder steers averaged $1.46 per pound.
Amanda Grafton showed the 673-pound champion dairy feeder. Nathan and Michael Watkins paid $1.45 per pound for the Holstein. Rachel Rector’s 513-pound reserve champion brought $1.75 per pound from Jefferson Landmark.
Rector was the dairy outstanding exhibitor.
Three other dairy feeders met or exceeded the champion’s bid. Ten dairy feeders averaged $1.39 per pound with champions and $1.33 without.
Goats. Tyler Ruckman’s champion market goat jumped nearly every time the bid climbed higher, testing the youngster’s strength and determination.
Ruckman sold his 108-pound champion for $275 to the Wintersville Wal-Mart.
Grocer Riesbeck’s Market paid $250 for the reserve champion goat raised by Chad Ramsey.
Seven goats averaged $221.43 with champions and $205 without.
Garrett Greene was the outstanding goat exhibitor. Showmanship winners were Ruckman, junior; Dalton Wood, intermediate; and Shatawna Glover, senior and supreme.
Ducks and geese. The Scassas were back in the ring for champion photos after bidding $500 for the champion pen of two meat ducks raised by Katie Moore.
The second-place bidders for Moore’s project, Esther and Lamont McCoy, stayed strong and stood proudly to buy Miranda Roe’s reserve champion ducks. The McCoys paid $200 for the project.
Six pens of meat ducks averaged $229.17 with champions and $168.75 without.
Poultry. Ten-year-old Erin Hartzell showed the champion pen of three meat chickens. Buyer Car Medic paid $375 for the pen, up $25 from the champion bid last year.
The gavel nearly fell at $450 on the reserve champion pen when ringmen figured they had two separate bidders on. The two buyers dueled it out, and Scassa Asphalt eventually paid $510 for the pen raised by Chris Groves.
Seven pens of chickens averaged $304.29 with champions and $249 without.
Outstanding poultry exhibitor was Kylee DeHamer. Showmanship winners were Matthew Townsend, junior; DeHamer, intermediate and supreme; and Seth Otto, senior.
The Scassa family came to Friendship Park to buy champions, and they stepped up bids on many small animal projects as the sale went on. Scassa Asphalt paid $550 for Shatawna Glover’s champion meat goose, and then paid $550 for Kayla Vargo’s champion turkey.
Susie Corso and Brian Robb paid $225 for the reserve champion goose, raised by Emily Pollock.
American National Insurance paid $425 for the reserve champion meat turkey raised by Brittney Vargo.
Two pens of market geese sold for $775. Seven turkeys sold, averaging $325 with champions and $260 without.
Rabbits. Grocery chain Riesbeck’s Market paid $550 for the champion pen of three rabbit fryers raised by Brittany Carman.
Howard Bowers Contracting in Wintersville paid $525 for the reserve pen raised by Megan Carman. Five pens of rabbits averaged $340 with champions and $208.33 without.
Hannah Means was the most outstanding rabbit exhibitor and intermediate showman. Showmanship winners were Samantha Gregor, junior; and Joelle Bensie, senior and supreme.
Special presentations. The fair’s livestock sale committee paused to honor Bob Gump of Split Rail Feed and Seed for a donation he made to the junior fair in memory of his father, the late Bob Gump.
Committee chair Ron Carman said Gump’s donation helped with an addition to the sale arena, including a scalehouse.
Richmond, Ohio, artist Dave Barnhouse again showed his support of the county’s young people by donating a signed and numbered print for auction.
Jack Downey of Haven Kennels at Bloomingdale paid $1,000 for the print, Talkin’ Turkey, to benefit the junior fair.
Auctioneers for the sale were Gary Cain, Rick Sponhaltz, Jayme Gandee, Mark Harding and Harry Grafton.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22 or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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