Looking to buy a 50-pound turkey, or a 300-pound pig? The 4-H Junior Livestock Auction is just the place to find one. The bidding was lively on Saturday at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer.
The sound of a live auction filled the Farm Exhibits Barn at the Alaska State Fair. Bidding was frenzied for the turkeys, especially for an all white 50-pounder. More than 90 youngsters participated in the Junior Market Livestock Auction this year as sellers of animals that they had raised themselves. The 4H program enables young people interested in agriculture to gain experience in both raising a quality animal, and in selling it for a fair market price.
Over in the corrals, Kyle Miley is patiently waiting with his pig, Jerry. Jerry, all 252 pounds of him, is lying on his stomach, seemingly oblivious to the hubbub around him. Miley’s got a purple ribbon pinned to his belt.
“Well, that was for showmanship, and showmanship is based off of how you show the animal. So, that was for showmanship, a participation award, and for confirmation is the two blue ribbons. And confirmation is about the pig, how the pig looks. So he did better than I did.”
Jerry’s two blue ribbons were gained at livestock shows earlier in the fair. Miley says, Jerry is most likely headed to the slaughterhouse, depending on the winning bid.
“Maybe Three Bears, it could be Alaska Mill and Feed. It could be a company that just wants to buy meat and sell it. ”
4 H kids, some as young as nine, raise goats, lambs, turkeys, chickens, rabbits and other animals for the program. When the animals are auctioned off, a small portion of the proceeds goes to support the program, but most of the cash goes back to the youngster who raised the animal for sale. Many of the participants borrowed money to buy and raise the animal, and they will pay back the loan with what they earn at the auction.
Over in another stall, Temujin Horsey is hunkered down with his two pigs. One, Crazy Train, is living up to her name, while the other one snoozes peacefully at Horsey’s feet..
“This one I am going to sell today. He is an exotic breed, which means that you breed them so many different ways from so many different things that they are a new color and everything. ”
The relaxed pig, contradictorily named Jolt., has got his share of championship ribbons. Horsey has raised the pig from birth. Now it weighs over 300 pounds. I ask, will it be hard to let him go?
“Yes, yes it is. I’ve been doing this, this is my fifth year now. It is a little easier than normal, but yes, it is hard.”
Meanwhile, the auctioneer’s chant continues to elicit squeals and shouts from the crowd.
But it will be a while yet before the pigs are up for bid, and Jolt and Jerry are taking it easy.