In 2014, the North Carolina State Fair’s Junior Livestock Sale of Champions was moved from the small sales arena in the Jim Graham Building out onto the main floor, which was set up to be audience friendly.
The timing was changed too, so that what had been a midday sale conducted while many other livestock activities were going on now took place in “prime time” when distracting activities were minimal.
The results were good the first year, but the new format really yielded benefits when the sale was at the 2015 fair on Oct. 17. The crowd was visibly a record, with attendance estimated at 1,500 or more, well over any previous Sale of Champions.
“It was standing room only,” said Neil Bowman, livestock director for the fair. “The Graham Building was well packed.”
Attendance wasn’t the only record set. Bidders paid a record total of $176,250 for the top steers, barrows, lambs and goats the youth of North Carolina brought to the sale. “The record sales highlight the champion animals that have been exhibited at the fair,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “But more importantly, the sale recognizes outstanding young people for their accomplishments.”
Following the auction of the grand and reserve grand champions, all the remaining junior livestock animals were sold in a “truckload” auction.
The youth receive 60 percent of the purchase amount, while the remaining 40 percent goes to support youth scholarships and livestock programs in North Carolina.
“Showing livestock is one of the integral parts of keeping the livestock industry going. When these kids get into it when they are young, it stays with them, and those are the kids that stay in the business.
“The kids who are out here showing livestock, feeding and watering and caring for the animals, they understand the value of doing a good job. And they understand the consequences of not doing a good job. They learn responsibility from a very young age, and that responsibility and that work ethic carry through all their life.”
Madison Boyd, 14, of Pine Town, showed the grand and reserve champion junior market steers,. Harris Teeter placed the winning bid of $35,000 for the grand champion. N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance bought the reserve champion for $16,000.
Mason Blinson, 17, of Buies Creek, showed the NC Born and Bred champion steer. The Carlton and Lyndell A. Martin Family Foundation bought it for $20,000 with additional support from N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance, Jones and Cox Cattle Co., Carolina Stockyards, Performance Livestock and Feed Co., E.B. Harris Inc. and Thompson Cattle Co.
Hunter McMillen, 8, of Grandy, showed the grand champion junior market barrow. The N.C. Pork Council placed the winning bid of $19,000 for the hog.
Hailee Whitehurst, 12, of Hobgood, showed the grand champion junior market lamb,. Powers Great American Midways bought the animal for $12,000.
MacKenzie Cox, 5, of Richlands, showed the reserve champion junior market lamb. McBride’s Concessions and Powers Great American Midways bought the lamb for $9,000. In the junior market barrow show, Cox’s hog was named the reserve champion and N.C. Born and Bred champion. Hog Slat Inc., Smithfield Farmland and Duplin Marketing purchased it for $19,000.
Madison Reber, 10, of Mount Ulla showed the NC Born and Bred champion lamb. Tractor Supply Co. bought the animal for $13,000.
Caley Mayo, 14, of Whitakers, showed the junior market meat goat, which was purchased by NC Farm Credit Associations of the Carolinas for $13,250.
Joel Dahms, 17, of Bahama, showed the reserve champion junior market meat goat. NC Farm Bureau Insurance placed the winning bid of $8,000 for the goat.
Elizabeth Sullivan, 5, of Lucama, showed the NC Born and Bred champion meat goat. NC Farm Bureau Insurance and Iron Horse Auction Co. paid $12,000 for the goat.
E.B. Harris of Warrenton ran the auction.