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For 4-H’ers, livestock sale rounds out this year’s county fair

August 2, 2018 GMT

Another year, another county fair, another livestock sale. Another generation of youth is growing up and developing through 4-H.

The program is successful in Lincoln County because of a lot of dedicated adult volunteers. It takes committed youth, too, like Chase Martin, who said he is 12 years old but, he quickly added, “in 4-H age, I’m 11,” the age he was at the beginning of the year.

This is the fourth year that Chase has showed cattle. This year, he showed a black and white steer named Po, who reminded him of the panda on “Kung Fu Panda,” and another steer named Oscar because, from a certain angle, he “always looked grumpy.”

Chase said a couple of years ago, “me and the neighbor thought it would be a good idea to show pigs.” So he has been doing that since then, too.

This year, he had a red gilt (young female pig) named Lyla that he wanted to show, but she was “nowhere close to making weight.”

But “I had extra pigs,” he said, so he showed two barrows (neutered males) that were “crossbred with a little Pete (Pietrain breed)”; one “with a (black) belt not quite all the way around”; and another that was solid white.

At Monday’s 4-H livestock sale, “I sold Oscar ’cause him and Po did the same (both blue ribbons), but Oscar weighed a lot more” so he would bring in more money, said Chase. He added that he sold the solid white pig, but the other one was under minimum sale weight of 230 pounds.

“My grandpa raises pigs, so we sold the barrow back with him. He lives in Lexington,” he said. “The other steer came to our house for the night, then he went to Wallace to become beef.”

“I think 4-H is a good learning experience and teaches you about livestock and why it is important to the world,” he added. “It teaches you to work hard and try and do as good as you can. Working as hard as you can doesn’t seem that bad — it makes it like a normal thing.”

Finally, “I would like to give thanks to all the businesses that bid on or bought or put money on kids’ animals and hope they come back next year so our sale will grow,” he said.

Chase’s parents are Jeremy and Gail Martin, who recently moved from Hershey to Wellfleet. “Kids definitely learn responsibility, economics,” and “respect for animals and other people” through 4-H, Gail said.

There are many adult volunteers, including up to three or four at a time in the show ring. The Martins’ daughter, Regan, showed at county fair for the first time this year.

“Her calf was a little rambunctious the first day, and one of the (volunteers) came up and helped her out. She went up to him and thanked him afterwards without being told to,” said Gail. “It’s great to see them doing that” and helping each other out “without a parent suggesting it.”

Gaylene McCall of North Platte, manager of the 4-H livestock sale, said the auction attracted more than 200 buyers. She expressed appreciation for the platinum sponsors, each of which spent at least $3,500 in premiums: Equitable Bank, Adams Bank and Trust, First State Bank, First National Bank — North Platte, MC Containers and Mid-States Electric.

For larger animals, a person or company agrees to pay a base price, if the bid winner does not do so, and keeps the animal. Usually, the bid winners pay only the difference between the base and the bid, which is called the premium, and do not take possession of the goats, sheep, swine or cattle.

The base bidders were JBS Beef Plant of Grand Island for cattle; Hormel Foods of Fremont for hogs; and an individual from Elm Creek for goats and sheep, said McCall.

Rabbits and fowl are sold in pens of three to the highest bidders, many of whom donate the animals back to the 4-H’ers.

Gail Martin said it costs a lot to care for an animal and prepare to show it at the fair. Proceeds from the sale help 4-H’ers “break even or earn a little money to improve on their projects next year.”

McCall said not all of the animals went to the sale. Many, especially champions, were kept back to represent Lincoln County at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, which will be from Aug. 24 to Sept. 3, or to show at the Aksarben Stock Show in Grand Island from Sept. 27-30.

McCall said she has been on the 4-H livestock sale committee since 2006. She and her husband, John, grew up in 4-H, and their own children “were strong in 4-H and now we’ve got grandkids in 4-H.” Their daughter, Jessica Wilson, is now her assistant at the sale.

McCall thanked Ag Valley Coop, which for several years has been donating bottles of water in a trough of ice in the arena for the livestock shows. There is a long list of other volunteers, she said, who “are crucial to the success of our 4-H program.”

The beautiful, cool weather for the fair and the sale helped this year, too, she said. It “was awesome.”