September 30, 2014

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4-H efforts culminate in livestock auction

Libby Dvorak, 11, of Wakeman, shows her hog at the market auction with Lily Dowdell, 11, of Rochester, at the Lorain County Fair on Saturday. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Libby Dvorak, 11, of Wakeman, shows her hog at the market auction with Lily Dowdell, 11, of Rochester, at the Lorain County Fair on Saturday. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

WELLINGTON — In America’s market today, hogs sell at an average of 84 cents per pound. But in the Lorain County Fair meat market, the young hogs shown by local 4-H kids sold Saturday for approximately twice that.

The first auctioned raked in a bid much higher than the rest — T.L. Keller Meat purchased the 269-pound grand champion hog for $9 per unit, surprising the hog’s owner, 4-H member Hayley Rickey of Spencer.

“The bids are high because everyone wants the good quality products,” said the livestock committee member Ken Ritter, who said participants at the Lorain County Fair raise their animals drug-free. “Grandma and Grandpa will come help buy.”

Last year, the grand champion sold for $10.50 per unit, skimming just below the 2006 record of $11.25.

When this summer’s offers hovered around $1.60 per unit for the first few hogs, the decision to bid up against 300 other fairgoers scrambling for a particular animal was personal.

For Shirley Sterk, founder of Sterk’s Catering and a slew of restaurants in the county, the animal’s upbringing influences her choice to purchase meat for her food services.

“I know the family and the kids are hard workers,” Sterk said of the two hogs that she wanted to cinch for about $2 per unit.

Sterk, who was one of the top 10 buyers last summer, has bid on Lorain County fair animals for 40 years in support of 4-H, an organization she believes is crucial “for the growth of kids.”

From the perspective of 4-H members selling their hogs, the aim is to not lose money. Breanna Gyeszat, 17, of LaGrange, hoped to sell her 200-lb and 260-lb hogs for a price above $1.50 per unit.

“You want to make a profit,” said friend and fellow 4-H teammate Morgan Myers, who fattens her hogs with banana peels.

Several trucking companies transported the pigs to their slaughtering destination early this morning. Claiming that few tears are shed on trucking day, livestock committee members Vince Coughlin said the kids “know what they’re doing” when they raise hogs for the fair.

Contact Elizabeth Kuhr at 329-7126 or ekuhr@chroniclet.com.