Over the years I have been involved in the local junior livestock auctions at Madison, Benton and Washington County fairs. I became the auctioneer for those sales for several years and had lots of fun doing them. Of course, I think the 4-H and FFA programs in these livestock projects are real lesson learners for youngsters – teaching them how to stay with something and lots more. I never charged any of them a dime for my services. Also, I usually brought enough other companies’ money along besides Tyson Foods to hold up the prices and help maintain that every youngster received a fair amount.
At such sales, there were always parents who did business with sale barns, banks and other businesses who had some pull and could get their child’s stock bought at a good price or premium. I always worried about Johnny or Sally whose mom and dad simply worked a day job and knew no one. And, I see that situation is still supported today by generous folks.
Those county fairs are, of course, held every year in late August or September in an unair-conditioned sales arena. And the weather can range from hot to wet. I recall in the 70s when it rained all week, and the Washington County fairgrounds were so saturated, the midway was half knee-deep in mud.
There are and have been lots of folks who volunteer their time loyally to keep things going at these events. But I also know lots of grownups who have had a great adventure sleeping overnight at the barns during the fair to watch their project and share the comradeship of being an exhibitor.
Selling the grand champion steer was always the big event, and tensions run high in that arena. The final judging the night before usually kept folks fingernail biting in the stands, waiting for the judge’s slap. In those days there were lots of entrees, because more folks were involved in agriculture than there are today.
A few years ago, I was asked to announce the sellers at the Washington County Fair as they came in the ring. Low and behold, here were the “kids” who I had sold animals to 15 years earlier, with their children in the same show ring. My youngest grandson, Erich Albrecht, went with me to interview the kids, so I’d have a brief amount of information about each one. Fast as they sell them, you only have a small window to tell their name, age, club and or school, the animal’s name and what they want to be when they grow up.
I was dreading this year, as Erich had enrolled in the University of Arkansas. While Erich wasn’t ever a cowboy or ranch hand, he had fun interviewing the exhibitors and dodging cow pies, working on the project. But, sure enough, this year he had a class on sale night. Thankfully, a former exhibitor stepped in and took his place helping me gather information. Thanks, Susie.
There have been lots of cute interviews over the years. There was the boy with a market hog who told Erich to be sure I told the buyer of his project not to turn him out of his pen if he had loose chickens. “‘Cause Oscar would sure chase them down and eat them!”
Another boy selling a registered heifer told him that his show heifer was rude. Erich asked how that was, and the young man told him the first day he got her she’d butted him to the ground. So, rude became the new word to describe how an ornery heifer acted. It was lots nicer than “that blankety-blank so and so.” That story told me that boy’s momma must have been a big part of his project.
I once sold a poultry chain sale up in Benton County, and interviewed a young man who’d grown two dozen leghorn pullets. He told me on the TV interview he started with two dozen, then using his fingers, said three died in the process and two got away.
He said, “Do you know how fast they can run when they get out?”
I said, “No.”
In big drawl, he said, ”Lots faster than I can run. I just had to let them go.”
Don’t let your livestock get out, and I’ll be back next issue talking about the National Chuckwagon Racing Championship at Clinton, Ark., and the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas. God bless.
Western novelist Dusty Richards and his wife Pat live on Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas. For more information about his books you can email Dusty by visiting www.ozarksfn.com and clicking on ‘Contact Us’ or call 1-866-532-1960.


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