CANTON, Ohio — The swine sale at this year’s Stark County Fair was an emotional one for Bill and Denise Stanley.
Indeed, the sale was emotional for most of the people who witnessed it.
On Aug. 1, the Stanleys lost their 15-year-old daughter, Sarah, in a tragic farm accident involving a John Deere Gator (farm utility vehicle), and a truck.
Sarah had planned on bringing her project to the fair — just as she’s done since she was about 9. But even in her absence, friends and family helped finish her pig and bring it to the auction, held Sept. 5.
Before Sarah’s hog — lot No. 37 — entered the ring, the auctioneers announced that the proceeds would go toward a scholarship in Sarah’s name. She wanted to become a veterinarian, her mother and father said, so the scholarship will be awarded to someone with the same interest.
It didn’t take long for the bidding to top the grand champion hog ($25 a pound) and even the reserve grand champion ($15 a pound) combined — to sell at a convincing $70 a pound.
When the gavel finally fell, Denise Stanley was speechless.
She said the family only recently decided to start the scholarship — and did not know what to expect.
“It just blew me out of the water,” she said, wiping away tears.
She said her family always knew 4-H was a program with a lot of friends — even when they’re competing against each other.
But she said the support from other members and their parents — and the buyers — helped make it visible.
More than 16 buyers joined together to buy the pig, at $70 a pound. And then it sold again, and once again.
In all, her pig sold three different times, totaling more than $90 a pound in the end.
If you couldn’t see the emotion — there was something else visible: dozens of white T-shirts designed and sold in Sarah’s memory.
The shirts featured a large 4-H emblem on the front, surrounded by text that read “Sarah Stanley … In our hearts forever.”
The shirts were being sold for $10 each, and also helped with the purchase of a wooden bench, in Sarah’s memory.
“The junior fair is about family, and when something happens with one of ours, we step in,” said Pam Baad, junior fair coordinator.
Enjoyed the fair
Baad remembered Sarah as a happy young girl who enjoyed the fair.
“There was a smile on her face and a milkshake in her hand,” Baad said.
Bill Stanley said his daughter “loved the fair and she loved 4-H.” He added that the support and kind words helped “keep her spirit alive” at this year’s fair.
Her brother, Aaron, said the people at the fair have been “almost like a second family” to his own.
The Stanleys are still making decisions about how the scholarship will be awarded, and how many young people may benefit.
They hope to have a bank account set up after Labor Day, for anyone else who may be interested in donating.
Farm and Dairy will post that information as soon as it’s available.
In addition, the Minerva FFA Alumni is planning a benefit square dance, to be held Oct. 17, from 8-11 p.m., at West Community Center, 2604 U.S. Route 30, East Rochester, Ohio.
First buyer, ($70 a pound):
Sarchione Ford of Waynesburg; Paris Washington Insurance;
Louisville Physical Therapy; Beaver Excavating;
Olde Wood Ltd; Franklin Equipment;
Red Star Veterinary Clinic; Enviroscapes.
Second buyer, ($15 a pound):
Hometown vet; Paul Wallace; Kiko Meats;
Daryl Moran Family; Yoder Auto Repair; Kyle Yoder-Pharmacist;
Joe Chaddock Family; and Hatherill Insurance.
Third buyer, ($6 a pound): Sarchione Ford
STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!
Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!