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'Sold,' to benefit the members

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Third-year 4-H member Jacey Wilhelm thanks Sandy Cates (left) and Linda Finch of FCN Bank for purchasing her animal at the livestock auction Friday. All sellers give the buyers a picture of themselves with their animal for display at their place of business.
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Auctioneer Mike Koons searches the crowd seeking bidders for Brayden Pearson grand champion barrow at the Fayette County Free Fair livestock auction Friday.

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

The last 4-H event of the Fayette County Free Fair ended shortly after 9 p.m. Friday evening, earlier than those who help stage the event could remember.

Many, many years ago, 4-H members could sell a number of animals at the fair but for the past several years, 4-H members could sell two species of livestock. This year, organizers reduced it to one species, something some surrounding fairs had previously done.

Fair Association Board Member Danny Moster said the changes cut about 45 minutes off the length of the auction with 202 members going through the ring.

“They way they used to do it, we’d still be here because they’d run them through again,” he said. “With the lineup selling the animals in order, when it went four hours, those last ones, lot of the buyer are gone and the members don’t get much money. I think they averaged pretty good. Some of last year’s were lucky to get $100.”

He referenced another change, rather than selling by species of animals, the order of sale came by 4-H seniority from the 10-year members doown to the first year members.

Also for many years, the purchaser only bid a dollar amount known as the “premium,” the amount of money above the market price for the animal. In many days of yore, the animal sold by the pound so the buyer had to quickly calculate the cost above market to know the amount to pay.

The only animals to appear in the ring are the grand champions of the species which also moves the sale along.

Some exhibitors could not appear because they had taken animals to the Indiana State Fair.

Moster said not all the grand champions entered the ring because they had been taken to the state fair.

Although some sellers left during the auction, the bidding remained spirited from the first seller, 10-year-member Seth Bean who sold his animal for $500, to the last seller Kyle Drew, who sold his animal for $300. Drew, a nine-year member, missed his time through and went to the last of the sale.

Auctioneers Rusty Harmeyer, Mike Koons, David White, Roger Koons and Dustin Dillon took turns handling the duties with help from Mike Dare in the ring.

In 2015, one swine exhibitor could not attend the fair due to receiving treatment for lymphoma at the time. Jamison Holmlund’s sister walked into the auction ring to sell the barrow but, unknown to the family, the fair community had busily sought donations to raise the bid to help with family expenses.

While premiums had been moving along at $200 to $300 to $500, when sister Victoria entered the ring, the bids shot to $5,600 as fast as White could call for bids. Then Harmeyer took the microphone to explain the situation to those not in the know. They began bidding and the final tally came to $12,550.

Holmund, son of Michelle and Pehry Holmund, stood for himself Friday.

He said the cancer is gone and everything seems to be going well at the present time.

IMI purchased the Grand Champion Chianina Steer shown by five-year member Riley Steele for $1,050.

IMI Manager Don Steinard said the company has been buying animals at the fair for the 30 years he has been at the plant on Indiana 121 and it started before his arrival.

“This is to support 4-H, which is a hell of a program that does a lot of good,” he said. “This is something IMI does statewide. IMI is a huge supporter of 4-H.”

The company previously announced an additional $100 premium would be added to all the sales by the 10, 10-year members.

FCN Bank stayed to the very end because of its commitment to the community, said Sandy Cates, who did most of the bidding, with help from Linda Finch, branch manager.

“As our motto says, ‘Building stronger communities,’ that what we’re dedicated to doing,” she said. “We hit them from 10 year to one year, buying an animal in each age group.”

The bank also made livestock auctions in Ripley County, Franklin County and Union County in addition to Friday’s auction.

“I just love bidding,” she added.