“It’s good to be king,” Tom Petty once sang, “whatever it pays.”
At the Curry County Events Center Friday night, it was good to have a grand champion, But no matter what, it paid to be a youngster with a fair animal for sale.
“This is as good as it gets,” Koby Valentine of Melrose said after selling his grand champion lamb at the Curry County Fair’s annual junior livestock sale.
This year’s sale featured 112 animals with a total auction price topping $285,000. Last year, about $300,000 was raised for 113 animals shown by Curry County youngsters.
Throughout the night, youth come to the show pen with their animal, and auctioneers Shane Hall and Tommy Williams try to get the best price they can — encouraging people to, “bid freely and bid extravagantly,” in Hall’s words.
Bidders are given a packet prior to the auction listing each youngster’s name, Future Farmers of America or 4-H club designation, animal, fair placing, show weight and market value.
Successful bidders can pay the auction price and keep the animal, or send it off to market and pay the difference. In either case, the entire auctioned amount goes to the youth.
“These kids have worked extremely hard,” sale chairman Chris Thomas said. “What you’re going to see are the best of the best animals.”
Valentine’s animal, the fair’s grand champion lamb, went for $3,600, compared to a market value of $119.04. Kajlee Huysman, who will be a junior at Clovis High School, preceded him and received $3,200 for her grand champion dairy heifer.
Huysman, who has presented animals for eight years, said the show encapsulates a summer’s worth of work.
“We got (the animal) in May, and I took care of everything, every day for at least three hours,” Huysman said. “I do pigs and sheep too, so it took up my whole summer.”
Having a grand champion animal, Huysman said, didn’t help with the price of the animal — that, she said, usually comes down to who you know — but having a grand or reserve champion animal is nice because you present in the first 30 minutes instead of waiting and being nervous.
Huysman and Valentine have embraced the business approach to the sale. Neither one bothered to name their animal, and both are using the money to invest in more animals for the 2013 show.
The crowd, made up of businesses and community leaders, gave cues to auctioneers as animal prices shot up, sometimes by amounts of $100 and other times by amounts of $50.
Assistants, such as Drew Perez, indicate when bidders take the price higher. Even though the gestures appear subtle, Perez said it’s easy to find them when you know what you’re looking for.
“You get it wrong, they’ll pay for it anyway,” Perez joked, before explaining the craft. “You get hooked up with them before, you know they’re bidding. Then you’ll just get a nod.”
Curry County Fair schedule
Youth and Pioneer Day
8 a.m.: Second annual basketball tournament, Entertainment area
8 a.m.: Arena cross qualifying races, Mounted Patrol Arena
9 a.m.: Annual Great American Turtle Race, Kevin Roberts Arena
10 a.m.-10 p.m.: Agriculture exhibits open
10 a.m.-10 p.m.: Home arts exhibits open
10 a.m.-10 p.m.: Commercial exhibits open, indoor pavilion
10 a.m.: Old Timer celebration, Extension Building
10 a.m.: Mixed team horseshoe pitching contest, location TBA
10 a.m.: Antique showcase open, indoor Pavilion/Old House
10:30-2 p.m.: Youth Day activities
Noon: Old Timers Lunch, Extension Building
Noon-Midnight: Carnival Open, $25 wristband
2 p.m.: Livestock entries released
6 p.m.-8 p.m.: 4-H exhibits released, Home Arts Building
6:20 p.m.: Ham Bone Express pig races, Midway Area
6:50 p.m.: Kids Discovery, food court-dance area
7 p.m.-9 p.m.: Square dancers, Entertainment slab
7:10 p.m.: Robert Smith "Street Magic LlVE”, Midway-indoor pavilion
7:30 p.m.: Arena Cross qualifying races, Mounted Patrol Arena
7:30 p.m.: Ham Bone Express pig races, Midway area
7:50 p.m.: Kids Discovery, food court-dance area
8 p.m.-midnight, DJ, Entertainment slab
8 p.m.: Dirty River Boys in concert, Curry County Events Center
8:10 p.m.: Robert Smith "Street Magic LIVE”, Midway-indoor pavilion
8:30 p.m.: Ham Bone Express pig races, Midway area
8:50 p.m.: Kids Discovery, Food court-dance area
9 p.m.: Aaron Watson in concert, Curry County Events Center
9:10 p.m.: Robert Smith's “Street Magic LIVE”, Midway-indoor pavilion