Grand finale

Big animals bring in big bucks at market sale

Big animals bring in big bucks at market sale

July 29, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - "Ninety dollars, hominabid hominabid, 90 dollars."

Strings of numbers and gobbledy filler sounds tumbled easily from Robert Mullendore's mouth Friday at the Washington County Ag Expo.

"Ninety-five'll help ... We're on the wrong side of a hundred."

The patter was part of the 4-H market animal sale, where big money buys big and small farm animals.

It's the crowning event of the weeklong Ag Expo at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, south of Hagerstown.

Karlie Hose walked laps on soft dirt and wood chips in the show ring, her grand champion capon tucked under her arm. Mullendore was asked what she would do with the money she takes in from the sale.

"Use it for a car," she said.

"What kind?"

"One that'll drive."

The chicken sold for $425.


Mullendore said he hears three choices when he asks Ag Expo youngsters that question about money - a car, getting married and college tuition.

Undoubtedly, Mullendore has asked the question a lot. Fellow auctioneer Denny Stouffer went to his car to retrieve proof. He came back with a framed picture from an Oct. 13, 1967, edition of The Morning Herald.

"Dennis Stouffer, at right, took home 78 cents for each of the 1,105 pounds in his grand champion Angus steer," the caption says.

"That was the ultimate to have," Stouffer said of his winning steer. "That's like winning the Super Bowl."

The auctioneer who sold that steer was Mullendore, he said.

Stouffer, 52, said 4-H life - raising animals, learning business sense, practicing public speaking - "is a whole different way of life," wholly removed from the sedentary ways of a video-game generation.

Game Boy dexterity meant little Friday to youths tugging at the leads of rambunctious goats or using boards to herd defiant, snorting pigs through a maze of metal gates.

Minutes away from the auction-ring limelight, Jamie Beckley brushed specks of feces from the backside of her 248-pound swine.

A bidding battle broke out for Beckley's pig. One dollar per pound. Two. Two and a half. Three.

As a bid-spotter, Kevin Martin hollered "YessSS!" each time Andrew Herbst gestured that he was willing to pay more.

Three-sixty. Three-seventy. Three-eighty.

"Chicken," Martin called to Herbst, prodding him, when the back bidder appeared to take control. Herbst looked conflicted, but unable to back out.

Herbst, from Misty Meadow Farms in Smithsburg, won the auction at $4 per pound - about $1 more than the cap he set in advance.

"He just kept edging me on," Herbst said as he sipped a drink afterward.

Jim Jackson wasn't expecting to buy any animals when he brought his wife, Donna, and granddaughter, Taylor, to Ag Expo.

Then came the auction for a capon that Hannah Smith raised, but couldn't show.

Smith, 18, of Clear Spring, was thrown from a horse on June 14. She broke the tibia and fibula in her left leg and shattered her right ankle.

She showed up Friday in a wheelchair, a pink cast on her right leg.

Smith allowed her capon to be sold at auction, but asked that the proceeds go to a fund she is setting up for an annual Ag Expo animal-showing prize.

Bidding for Smith's capon started at $200, and shot up rapidly, $25 at a time. A few bidders stopped in the upper hundreds.

At $1,000, Jackson jumped in and won.

"It was for charity, and we're big on charity," said Jackson, who owns Zeppelin Real Estate in Hagerstown with his wife.

Throughout the week, other 4-Hers raised another $955, which was added to Jackson's $1,000 winning bid.

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