Livestock sale fair tradition

Ring men Wayne Kinman of Elida, front, and Johnny Ogden of Floyd work the livestock auction crowd Friday at the Curry County Fair. (Staff photo: Andy deLisle)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The contours of smooth-soled cowboy boots and treaded sneakers decorate the dirt. A man in a peach Oxford shirt dances across the arena, his hands twist and turn and point.

The sing-song voice of the auctioneer floats through the arena. He prods the audience, “That’s a fine little lamb and a good lookin’ young lady.”

A few in the crowd keep cadence with his undulating pitch, clapping their hands, as the girl struggles to keep her black-faced lamb still.

“Sold,” he declares. “Sold for $2,750.”

So goes the Curry County Junior Livestock Sale.

Hundreds of people attended the annual event Friday night, and thousands of dollars changed hands.

Each year, area business owners bid on heifers, steers, pigs, sheep and, occasionally, rabbits and poultry. Those who purchase animals at the sale generally pay $1,500 to $2,000 more than the market price. Because snagging a deal isn’t what the livestock sale is all about.

“It’s all about the kids,” explains New Mexico Bank and Trust President Gary Wiley, a devoted livestock attendee who purchases a pig or steer yearly and distributes the meat to his employees.

Tradition dictates children with entries in the sale — members of local agriculture clubs who range in age from 9 to 19 — save the money they garner for college, attendees said.

“When my kids showed, people bought their animals. They did it out of the goodness of their hearts. That’s why I buy — to return the favor,” said Pat Woods, a Broadview resident and father of three.

Lauren Widner, 17, sold her pig for $2,250 at the Friday auction. The Melrose teenager has amassed a small fortune selling animals at the sale for the past eight years. She confirmed she will use the money for college, and intends, at least for the moment, to pursue a career in agricultural marketing.

“People need to realize how important agriculture is,” the hazel-eyed girl said, a bevy of swine braying for food behind her.

“Genuine people are involved,” she said of her love for the industry, which she has been a part of since birth. “You are always learning with agriculture.”