WELLINGTON — The fairgrounds were calm Saturday morning, dew glistening, and people casually getting ready for the day’s events.
All was mostly quiet — while crowds were yet to arrive — a vendor grilled peppers and onions and a fair worker puts bags in trash cans.
But the excitement started to build around 8 a.m. when the Lorain County Junior Fair livestock sale of steer and hogs began.
Members of 4-H clubs from across the county paraded their animals into the barn where buyers bid, not only to help local kids save for college, but also to get a good product that will ultimately wind up on someone’s dinner plate.
Brian Fehlan, a Livestock Sale Committee member, said kids spend several months raising animals. Exhibitors might spend three to four months raising a hog, he said, and 10 to 11 months for a steer. There were 85 steer at Saturday’s auction and 180 hogs.
Most people are eager to see the price the grand champion and reserve champion animals go for. Melanie Gott of Wellington sold her 1,287-pound Reserve Champion Lottery Steer for $3.50 a pound, bringing in $4,504, while Delaney Adams of Spencer sold her Grand Champion 273-pound hog for $12 a pound, bringing in $3,276 and breaking a 2006 fair record.
Fehlan said the whole process is a huge opportunity for kids.
“You have to care for these animals and feed them every day, morning and night,” Fehlan said. “In the summertime and fall, that’s all right, but winter is a different story. It’s a commitment.”
Auctioneer Andy Suvar said the exhibitors, their families and 4-H advisers spend hours getting animals ready for auction.
“A lot of time goes into these projects,” Suvar said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s steers, hogs or chickens. It still takes time and dedication.”
Financial responsibility is also learned, and those who may not grow up on farms come away with a better understanding of where food comes from.
“Not all these kids live on farms,” Fehlan said. “Some live in towns, and it just teaches kids where their food comes from. In our society, a lot of people have forgotten what that process is, where that steak came from or where those pork chops came from.”
Gott, 16, has been raising animals for seven years and likes showing animals with friends.
“I just like interacting with the animals and demonstrating responsibility,” Gott said. “It’s exciting to see the growing process an animal goes through.”
Gott, who showed her first animal at age 9, said it is still difficult giving up an animal to a buyer when the time comes.
“You get attached,” Gott said. “I’ve been doing it so long, I’m kind of used to it, but you still get attached and it’s sad.”
2014 FAIR CHAMPION WINNERS
This year’s Grand and Reserve Champions for steer and hogs included:
- Shelby Fortune — 1,265-pound Grand Champion Lottery Steer, bought by Weathertight Construction for $4,048.
- Melanie Gott — 1,287-pound Reserve Champion Lottery Steer, bought by Rich Rankin for $4,504.
- Madison Lewis — 1,616-pound Grand Champion Dairy Steer, bought by Bob’s Truck Tire Sales and Service for $4,201
- Michaela Price — 1,332-pound Reserve Champion Dairy Steer, bought by Kelby Bros./Fligner’s Market $3,463
- Vincent Meyers — 1,342-pound Grand Champion Modern Beef, bought by T.L. Keller Meat for $4,026
- Alex Fehlan — 1,326-pound Reserve Champion Modern Beef, bought by Absolute Machine Tools Inc. for $3,911
- Delaney Adams — 273-pound Grand Champion Hog, bought by Denes Concrete for $3,276
- Dylan Minek — 262-pound Reserve Champion Hog, bought by Lighthouse Insurance for $2,620