By LIBBY CLUETT
The Palo Pinto County Stock Show and auction is over and has left some extra dollars in the pockets of area youth, many of whom will continue with their animals as they head to shows in Fort Worth, Houston, San Angelo and San Antonio.
Friday's auction drew buyers from throughout the county. While Palo Pinto County Livestock Association President Ronnie Lee said buying was “better than expected,” he added, “the economy knocked us.”
Overall, prices of cattle and swine were down and Lee said, on initial glance, the auction was down by about 15 to 20 percent from past years.
“Some steers brought less than $800,” he said, adding that these animals have been tagged since June and youth probably had them – feeding and prepping them – almost a year.
Lee also noted there was competition, with a total of seven auctions on Saturday.
“Five years ago was the best,” he said of bidding and prices, “but the oil and gas industry was really booming.”
However, Lee said the top steer price was higher than last year's and went to the Graford Fair and Livestock Association.
This community buyers group “purchased” Annie Herring's 1,325-pound grand-champion steer, “Bling,” for $4,500.
Herring, a Graford home-schooled seventh-grader, unseated last year's grand champion, Justin Rico, who won reserve champion this year with “Flash,” a steer that “sold” for $3,000 at Saturday's premium auction to the Business Groups of Santo.
Rico, a senior in Santo, said he plans to take the 1,100-pound steer to Houston and has another he plans to show in Fort Worth.
“This is a big deal for us in Graford,” noted one Graford resident and “Bling” supporter as he passed by.
“The show was a lot of fun,” said Herring, who plans to take Bling to the Fort Worth Stock Show. “It taught me a lot of great values.”
The premium auction is a form of donation, explained Mineral Wells Young Farmer's committee member Stephanie White. She said bidders contribute funds to help the youth out with their projects.
In addition to Herring and Rico, other top honors at this year's livestock show went to:
• Jake Dudley, of Graford 4H, who won grand champion with his lamb, sponsored by the Graford Fair and Livestock Association for $2,500. Reserve champion lamb went to Callie Wharton, of Santo 4H, sponsored by the Business Groups of Santo for $1,200.
• Zane Mauney, of Santo 4H, took both grand champion and reserve champion prizes for goats this year. High bids on both animals went to the Business Groups of Santo for $3,000 and $1,200, respectively. However, Mauney donated his reserve-champion bid back so other youth could benefit in the auction action.
• Mackenzee Burton's swine won grand champion and sold for $1,000 to Jerry Durant. Reserve champion swine went to Ashley Durst's animal, which Mr. Jim's Pizza purchased for $400. Both are members of Sturdivant 4H.
• Jacob Molder, of Santo 4H, won grand champion single rabbit, which sold for $1,000 to Capital Farm Credit. Terra Newsom, of Sturdivant 4H, took reserve champion in the rabbit division. Newsom's rabbit sold for $400 to David and Karyn Bullock.
In addition to Graford, Santo and Palo Pinto County buyers syndicates, Lee said there were several other premium-auction bidders, including banks, businesses, clubs and individuals, which helped sponsor winning youth.
Ryan Roach, a long-time participant in FFA who showed animals for 10 years at Santo, said this was his first time purchasing animals for a local service organization.
“Each community's support was obvious,” he said. “And I would hope, in the future, that the Mineral Wells community could be more active in purchasing animals.”
Two reserve-champion breed steers – both raised and prepped by Mineral Wells students and that went relatively early in the auction order – brought $500 each at Saturday's auction.
This year 236 animals made the premium sale, which represents the top 75 percent from each class. While Ronnie Lee said the total number of animals was about the same as last year's numbers, he noted there weren't as many steers, sheep or goats as in the past.
In addition to animals that made the premium auction, the Graham Livestock Exchange set the floor price for goats, buying the floor for $1.35 per pound, swine for 50 cents per pound and steer for $1.15 per pound. Brady Wharton bought the floor for sheep, at $1.10 per pound, and the Hoppy New Year Rabbit Show bought the floor for rabbits for $3 each.