The Huron County Junior Fair large livestock sale took place Saturday morning, the final day for this year’s fair.
For the first time in 50 years, Gayle Pickworth was not the auctioneer for the event. This year, as his retirement takes effect, a prepared statement from him thanked “all the faithful buyers over the years.” He emphasized that his retirement was only from the fair, not auctioneering.
The new auctioneers at the fair this year were Roger Hunker and Don Sweeting.
The sale categories were market hogs, beef steers/heifers, beef carcass cattle, dairy steers, dairy projects, market lambs, beef feeder calves and dairy feeder calves.
The bidders at the sale are usually businesses or individuals who want to help the exhibitors, as well as generate goodwill for their enterprises.
The youngsters receive not only the amount bid for each animal but also its market value, which reimburses them for the time, energy and money that have gone into the livestock.
Only a select few of the hundreds of entries in the fair can be named a grand or reserve champion, but every youngster with an animal in the sale is a winner because of the hard work and dedication it takes to undertake such a project, and all earn recognition for that dedication once they step out into the ring.
Few of these young agricultural stars show up in several of the animal categories, however Austin Hunker received reserve champion in not just two, but three categories — market hog, dairy steer and market lamb divisions. Later that day he earned second place in the showman of showmen competition as well.
A member of the Lyme Producers 4-H Club, he is a sophomore at Bellevue High School, where he belongs to the FFA. He took two heifers, four sheep, four pigs and one Holstein steer to the fair this year, making for a busy routine. Hunker said in order to get everything done at a decent time, he starts each day at 4:30 a.m. caring for his animals.
He loves working with animals because each has its own personality and each means a lot to him. Hunker, who described himself as “caring and hardworking,” said in his spare time, “I like to spend time with my family.”
Even his younger cousin Morgan said described him as “awesome.”
For Hunker, this was a good experience, as his future plans are to work on the family grain farm following his graduation.
Here are the bid prices for each category winner. All the numbers in this article are bid prices only.
Norwalk’s Mason Kluding received $4,000 for his grand champion market hog, and Bellevue’s Austin Hunker receiving $1,500 for his reserve champion.
Alex Linder from Norwalk earned $6,000 for his market beef grand champ, and Greenwich’s Kotiana Barber earned $3,000 for her reserve champ.
In the market beef category Lexi Brown from Monroeville got $1,200 for her grand champ and Norwalk’s Ethan Brown received the same for the reserve champ.
The grand champ dairy steer belonged to Morgan Baxter from Willard, who received a bid for $1,900. Austin Hunker’s reserve champ got $1,300.
The price for both the dairy’s supreme champion and its junior was $1,000. Drake Knoll from Willard owned the supreme and Philip Madison from Greenwich owned the supreme junior champ.
Bellevue’s Chase Eisenhauer earned $3,300 for his grand champion market lamb and Austin Hunker earned $1,800 for the reserve champ. In the bred, born and raised category, Attica’s Blake Martin received $450 for the grand champ and Norwalk’s Emily Stevens received $500 for the reserve.
The top beef feeder belonged to Willard’s Owen Feichtner, who received $1,500, and the reserve belonged to North Fairfield’s Summer Sweeting, who received $1,400.
The final category was dairy feeder with Willard’s Morgan Baxter’s grand champion getting $2,300, and Monroeville’s Kadon Martin getting $1,600 for his reserve champ.
Each year during the sale a quilt made by members of the Huron County Agricultural Society is auctioned off. This year’s quilt sold for $775.