SALEM, Ohio – Ron Kreis chants and calls while he drives, auctioneering passing fence posts and telephone poles to invisible bidders.
It’s not uncommon for motorists to stare at intersections and stop lights, wondering just what this jabber-jaw is up to.
But he fears the stares are worsening now.
He’s driving a 2005 Dodge pickup truck with murals of cattle on the side panels and stickers advertising the Livestock Marketing Association on its fenders.
“It’s really something to see. It turns heads going down the road,” says the Adamsville man.
The tailgate displays his name and proclaims the driver is the world champion livestock auctioneer.
Kreis was crowned king of auctioneers June 18 at the Livestock Marketing Association’s World Livestock Auctioneer Championship in Tulsa, Okla.
Ohio rules. Kreis is the first Ohioan to ever win the contest, and only the fourth winner ever from east of the Mississippi River.
“Those guys out [west] sell a lot more cattle, mostly because their herds are bigger,” he said.
Kreis says the 1,200 head of cattle he averages weekly at the Muskingum Livestock Auction are just a drop in the bucket for the western sellers, who often auction that many in just a few hours.
Kreis said some competitors at the Tulsa event felt an Ohioan wasn’t much of a threat, but came away with a new respect for their victor.
This was the 42nd year for the championship, but the first time for the contest to be broadcast to the world on the Internet.
The Livestock Marketing Association says more than 1,000 people logged on to see the day-long contest at the Tulsa Stockyards.
Third time’s a charm. His third time in the contest proved to be the winning charm for 36-year-old Kreis of Adamsville, Ohio.
In 2003 and 2004 – his first two attempts – the veteran auctioneer finished among the top 10 finalists. He was sponsored by Muskingum Livestock Auction Co., Zanesville, Ohio.
Kreis said he’s been helping his father, who’s also an auctioneer, at farm sales since he “was big enough to hold stuff up.”
The fall after his high school graduation, he studied for two weeks at the Missouri Auction School.
He’s been selling livestock, real estate, farms and antiques for 18 years.
Not real yet. Kreis was obviously stunned when he was crowned champion by 2004 winner Dan Skeels of Rimbey, Alberta, Canada.
“This is like the Super Bowl or World Series” of auctioneering, he said.
“They announced the third- and second-place winners and I started figuring that my new [belt] buckle was pretty nice,” Kreis says. The top 10 finishers all received a buckle.
“Then they started playing my voice and I had to turn around to be sure it was my picture on the wall,” he said of the awards ceremony.
Wife Tonya and daughters Kinley and Kamryn were on hand for the award presentation.
Prizes. Kreis won $5,000 cash and a one-year lease on the 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 quad cab.
The truck’s decorations are to promote competitive livestock marketing and the auctioneer competition.
Kreis also brought home a championship diamond ring; a sculpture; a custom-made belt buckle and a custom Billy Cook championship roping saddle.
He also won the gold microphone award from the Missouri Auction School, the golden gavel award from the World Wide College of Auctioneering, and a championship shotgun.
Long road. The contest’s preliminary round was a video contest.
Fifty-eight contestants from across the country submitted unedited videos of themselves selling livestock at their local auction barns.
A panel of market owners watched each video, scoring them on vocal clarity and quality, bid-catching ability and their talent at keeping the sale moving.
The top 31 semifinalists came to the Tulsa Stockyards for competition.
The top 10 scorers in the preliminary round then sold cattle in the final round.
The semifinalists were also scored during an interview session on their skill as a spokesman for the marketing sector, and these scores were added to the scores they earned selling cattle, to determine who advanced to the finals.
Other finishers. The reserve world champion is Ty Thompson, Billings, Mont. The runner-up world champion is Justin Dodson, Welch, Okla.
Thompson was awarded $2,000 and Dodson, $1,000.
They were also awarded Waterford crystal and custom-made belt buckles from the trade association.
The remaining seven finalists were Tom Frey, Creston, Iowa; Al Wessel, Long Prairie, Minn.; Trent Stewart, Redmond, Ore.; Tracy Sullivan, Prague, Okla.; Kent Korte, Metropolis, Ill.; Dan Clark, Winner, S.D., and Jim Knopp, Bosque Farms, N.M.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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