WOOSTER, Ohio – In years to come, the question will be where were you when IT happened? “IT” was the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
When many Wayne County residents received the news, they had just settled in for a day at the 2001 Wayne County Fair. As they struggled to make sense of a seemingly senseless act of hatred and rage against the United States, a feeling of numbness and disbelief settled over the fairgrounds like a heavy cloud.
The numbness continued until Andrew Johnson walked into the ring with his 132-pound champion market lamb and quietly told the auctioneer that he would donate 10 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the lamb to the American Red Cross Disaster Fund to assist the victims in the Sept. 11 attack.
The lamb was purchased by Mike Pallotta Ford for $40 a pound.
Erik Dravenstott also donated 5 percent of the proceeds from the sale of his 132-pound reserve champion market lamb to the fund. The lamb was purchased by Dravenstott’s and The Barn Restaurant.
Small animals. Sarah Stahl’s 109-pound champion market goat was purchased by Bob Miller Realty for $5.25 a pound while Laurie Smetzer’s 108-pound reserve champion market goat was purchased by The Pizza Parlor of Shreve for $4.25 a pound.
Dustin Franks sold his champion pen of meat rabbits to McMillen Tours and Zimm’s Enterprises for $575 a pound while Maibach Ford and Beery’s.com bid $300 for Derek Bell’s reserve champion pen of meat rabbits.
Jeremy Wachtel sold his champion pen of broilers for $525 to McMillen Tours and GRT Utilicorp, while Ben D. Imhoff Inc. bid $525 for Mark Imhoff’s reserve champion pen of broilers.
Ben D. Imhoff Inc. also bid $500 for Mark Imhoff’s champion meat goose. Andrea Reichert sold her reserve champion meat goose for $300 to Joel Cessna, Merrill Lynch and Wooster Printing.
Reichert also sold her champion turkey for $400 to Maibach Tractor Parts while Vaughn Concrete and the fair staff bid $350 for Natalie Martin’s reserve champion turkey.
Dawna Beery sold her champion meat duck pen for $375 to Equity Exchange Co., and Marty’s Studio/Mai Li Chinese Food and Robbin’s Nest bid $275 for Rachel Sexton’s reserve champion meat duck pen.
By the end of the first of the two-day junior fair livestock auction, the fund grew to a little over $2,000 through donations from 4-H and FFA members.
The overwhelming support from the junior fair exhibitors continued into the second day of the auction with donations from beef and dairy steer exhibitors.
Hog wild! The swine sale kicked off with donations from the sale of Jenna Heil’s champion market hog and Hannah Wirth’s reserve champion market hog. Heil’s 244-pound champion market hog was purchased by Mike Pallotta Ford for $30 a pound while Maibach Ford/Beery’s.com and the 2001 Wayne County Junior Fair Support Group bid $6.25 a pound for Wirth’s 262-pound reserve champion.
Dave Schaffer, the 2001 Wayne County junior fair king, donated 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of his market hog to the fund. The 268-pound animal was purchased by Gerber Feed Service for $1.70 a pound.
Steers. Roger Shearer and Garrett Wirth donated a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of their steers to the fund. Shearer’s 1,290-pound champion steer was purchased by Dorothy Smith for $9 a pound. Smith continued by tradition established by her late husband, George, by purchasing Wirth’s 1,320-pound reserve champion steer for $4.50 a pound.
Luke Larimore’s 1,120-pound champion Wayne County bred steer was purchased by Mike Pallotta Ford for $2.90 a pound while Justin Thomas’ 1,165-pound reserve champion Wayne County bred steer was purchased by Tennant Family Show Supplies and Double J Farm for $1.40 a pound.
Lindsey Shoup’s 1,405-pound champion dairy steer was purchased by Tucker Packing for $2.70 a pound and Ellie Shoup’s 1,370-pound reserve champion dairy steer was purchased by Tucker Packing for $2.10 a pound.
Justin Esselburn sold his champion beef carcass for $2.75 a pound to Burge Family Farms LLC. Esselburn’s beef carcass had a hot weight of 867 pounds and a dressing percent of 61 percent, with a 14-inch ribeye, .6 inch backfat, a 3.21 yield grade and a quality grade of low prime.
Bryan Yungen sold his reserve champion beef carcass for $2.40 a pound to White House Artesian Springs. Yungen’s beef carcass had a hot weight of 827 pounds and a dressing percentage of 63 percent with a 16.2-inch ribeye, .5 inch backfat, a 2.21 yield grade and a quality grade of low choice.
Donations to the fund totaled $24,341.13, including a $4,500 donation from dairy exhibitors from the proceeds of the dairy product auction and donations from the food and fashion board.
“Just when you think you know these kids, they turn around and surprise you by doing something like this,” said Mike Priest, past president of the board of the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross and a former exhibitor in the Wayne County junior fair. He was at the auction to support the junior fair exhibitors by purchasing animals.
“I thought it was a really nice gesture and we might see $2,000 to $3,000. When the donations continued to come in, I called John Gareis and told him he needed to come down here and see what was going on.”
Gareis, a native of Cleveland, and a novice when it comes to fairs and livestock auctions, is the executive director of the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Gareis said that while they had received numerous calls about what people could do to provide assistance, this outpouring of generosity was unexpected and unsolicited.
“They didn’t have to do this,” Gareis said. “These kids aren’t rich and farming isn’t easy, yet they are donating money out of their pockets to help people they don’t know. I grew up in Cleveland, you would never see this kind of outpouring there. That says a lot about this community.”
Gareis added that this community just doesn’t surprise him anymore, citing a blood drive sponsored by the Wayne County Junior Leaders prior to the disaster that collected 131 pints of blood during the two-day drive.
Gareis said that the money will be sent to the National Disaster Relief Fund to be used for this disaster. He added that it could be weeks before officials know what the full spectrum of the disaster is.
“There are still people unaccounted for,” he said. “Their families are going to need assistance with rent or other expenses. We have been asking for money because it can be tailored to meet the needs of the victims and their families. Even the smallest donations can help people get their lives back on track.”
Gareis said that the donations from the junior fair exhibitors has helped the whole situation come full circle.
“These kids don’t know me from Adam, yet they are putting their trust in our organization to get this money where it needs to go,” he said. “This is very humbling.
“The people in Wayne County should be proud of what they are doing to help these people.”