Ten-year-old Carlie Sanchez’s steer outweighed her by more than a half of a ton, but the gentle giant quietly followed her lead into the arena at Saturday’s Junior Livestock Auction at the Colusa County Fair.
Sanchez, a member of Colusa 4-H, had one of 48 steers sold to the highest bidder, a tradition that dates back nearly eight decades.
“My brother had a steer two years ago and it looked like fun,” said Sanchez, who previously showed rabbits at the fair. “I thought I would give it a try this year.”
For most of the youth, the money raised from selling their market animals at auction will go toward their college education.
It was the agreement Sanchez said she made with her mother prior to the commitment of taking on such a large project. Sanchez earned $3.50 for the 1,200 pound animal, although beef averaged about $5.21 per pound overall, giving youth a big return on their investment of money, courage and hard work.
Hailey Trayhnam, of Colusa FFA, earned $10 per pound for her Supreme Champion steer. She earned Supreme Champion in 2016 and previous fairs throughout her 4-H and FFA career.
Total sales at Saturday’s auction grossed $1.32 million, up from $1.29 million last year, but under the 2015 record of $1.5 million.
Thousands of dollars were paid for each of the larger market animal by local farmers, business owners, family, friends, and groups, with the meat oftentimes donated to non-profit organizations, associations and special causes.
Among the beneficiaries were the Maxwell, Grand Island, Sac River, Colusa and Arbuckle Fire departments, the Colusa Lions Club and others.
Providing good food and care is key to raising healthy animals, said Keith Grimmer, whose set of three Cornish-cross chickens took the Supreme Champion award, as did his market turkey.
Grimmer, 11, is no stranger to the show ring. Including primary 4-H, Grimmer has been in the organization in Arbuckle for eight years, and has won Supreme Champion in the past.
This year, the seventh grader was also the champion of champions in showmanship, taking home his Masters E-1, which will advance him to state competition.
His brother, Mathew Grimmer, 16, received the reserved champion award for his turkey. He’s been in 4-H for eight years and is also a past champion.
But it wasn’t just brother against brother or brother against sister competing for titles at the Colusa County Fair.
First-time FFA animal exhibitors, cousins Danny and Casey Bedolla, earned the titles Supreme Champion and Reserved Champion awards for their turkeys, respectively.
Neither had been in a show ring prior to this year’s fair, but like the Grimmer brothers, commitment to the quality of care for the animal had much to do with the quality of the animal itself, although genetics also played a key role.
“I didn’t expect to get Supreme Champion, so it was pretty exciting,” said Danny Bedolla, who graduated this year from Colusa High School and plans to use his market winnings in the fall at American River College to pursue a degree in administrative justice.
Casey Bedolla, who will be a senior at Colusa High School, said she plans to try her hand next year raising a market hog.
The six turkeys auctioned Saturday averaged $46.25 per pound, although Danny Bedolla took home $90 per pound for his Supreme Champion, which was close to what he had hoped he would get.
There were 171 hogs auctioned at an average price of $13.22 per pound, up from $11.48 per pound last year.
Lambs averaged $12.33 a pound, up from $12.15 a pound with 224 lambs sold this year.
The 26 goats averaged $21.54 a pound, up from $18.13 a pound last year.
Buyers paid an average of $51 a pound for the 20 rabbits sold, although Madison May of Arbuckle 4-H garnered a whopping $105 per pound for her Supreme Champion.
Chickens averaged about $75 per pound. ■