Jennifer Blackburn, 16, of Grady, left, and Laiken Crist, 12, of Clovis, right, wait to show their lambs as Delanie Crist, 10, of Clovis, center, gives her lamb a kiss at Friday’s Junior Livestock Sale at the Curry County Fair. . Photo by Eric Kluth.
By Janet Bresenham
For Laiken Crist and her friends Kayla Merritt and Heather Blackburn, the Curry County Fair’s Junior Livestock Sale on Friday night quickly became bittersweet.
The reality of having to part with an animal they had spent months feeding, grooming and learning to love hit them all hard.
“They cry every year,” said Kayla, 12, who was selling a black-face lamb named Buddy. “You never know what’s going to happen to your animal after the sale.”
“Yes, it’s very hard,” said Laiken, 12, who sold a fine wool lamb named Cowboy that she had been raising since March for $1,450.
Despite the strong emotions following the sale, the girls said there is one big reason they keep raising more animals to show at the fair.
“For the money,” Laiken said. “It goes toward my college education.”
Blackburn, 15, who sold her Grand Champion Lamb named Six for $4,250, said she plans to use her money to pay expenses and buy another lamb for next year.
“He was my baby,” she said. “He was really sweet. But tomorrow we’ll have to put him on the truck for the packing house. It’s really sad.”
For Carrie Phipps, 18, of Clovis, showing and then selling her Grand Champion Steer named Houdini for $5,000 marked the end of years of raising livestock and the beginning of another chapter in her life.
“I’ve been doing this since I was in the fifth grade,” she said. “Usually, I would put the money I made back into raising another animal. But since this is my last year to show at the fair, I’ll probably use it for college.”
Amanda Riley, 13, of Clovis didn’t seem quite ready to part with her pen of three 9-week-old, Grand Champion white rabbits, who were sold for a total of $1,000.
The lively sale, marked by a cheering crowd and a fast-paced auctioneer who encouraged buyers to “help out those kids” with high bids, featured an array of livestock, some of which were decked out to attract attention.
Devanee Cherry, 11, of Broadview said she took her older sister Mikayla’s advice and sprinkled purple glitter on her black-face lamb Cadillac, as well as put a purple boa around its neck, before the lamb brought in $1,850.
Kaitlyn Grau, 10, of Grady said her mother helped adorn her steer Justin — who was the reserve champion of the breed — with multi-colored confetti before the steer sold for $2,250.
On the other hand, Cory Allen decided he would be the one to dress up to try to attract a high bidder for his dairy heifer.
He donned rolled-up blue jeans, rope suspenders and a floppy hat and put a red bandana in his back pocket, a bottle of milk in a pail and a piece of hay in his teeth to lead his heifer to a bid price of $2,400.
When the long evening was over, this year’s Junior Livestock Sale saw an unofficial sales total of about $251,000, according to Curry County Fair bookkeeper Peggy Burns.
Last year’s Junior Livestock Sale was slightly higher in total sales at $261,495, Burns said.
Curry County 4-H agent Les Owen said that although the children and teenagers with the top animals in each category have the right to sell their livestock at the Junior Livestock Sale, many of them decide to take the first-place winners and second-place finishers to the New Mexico State Fair to show.
The only exceptions are the Grand Champions from each type of livestock, which must be sold at the county fair level, Owen said.