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Youth Fair auction participants learn about selling, saying goodbye

August 06, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --Ben Byers III got to sell his calf and keep it, too.

Byers' steer at the Berkeley County Youth Fair's livestock auction was bought by a Hedgesville businessman for $12,000 Friday night in the baby beef sale.

The price was not a record, but it was close to one, auction officials said.

The steer, which sold for $10.25 a pound, weighed in at 1,172 pounds, according to auctioneer Ed Bohrer Jr.

The animal was one of 168 lambs, goats, steers and hogs sold under Bohrer's hammer at the sale.

Byers' steer was bought by Hunter Wilson, owner of Hunter Co. of Hedgesville, W.Va., a residential and recreational land development company and timber dealer.

"I gave it back to the boy," Wilson said. "I've known the family for years. They're my neighbors and they're good people."

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Byers, who friends said "is about 10," could not be found in the crowded fairgrounds Friday for comment.

Carolyn Bohrer, the auctioneer's mother, said a steer like Byers' would bring about 90 cents a pound at a regular stock sale.

"We just took one to a stock sale in Virginia and that's what it brought," she said.

Buyers are mostly area businesses who willingly pay way above market price for the animals sold at the youth fair as a way of supporting the 4-H and FFA club members who raise them, fair official Barb Frankenberry said.

This is the last year that John Boyd will show animals, but he's ending his career in the ring with a double honor for having the grand champion market steer and market hog.

Boyd, 20, of Gerrardstown, W.Va., has been showing animals at the fair since he was eight.

"But I've been coming here since I was 3 to watch my sisters show," he said.

He showed only steers until last year when the one he was raising died. He said he wanted a project and to raise an animal to make a little money, so he bought a hog.

"I found out that I liked it," he said.

Ed Bohrer said most of the animals sold Friday would be taken by fair officials to nearby slaughterhouses or to area livestock auctions like those in Hagerstown, Winchester, Va., or Greencastle, Pa., early next week.

For many youngsters who bring lambs, goats, steers and hogs to the auction ring, selling them is an annual ritual.

"We teach them as farm kids that that's why you raise them and take care of them, but when the time comes then that's what they're there for," Frankenberry said.

Sometimes, that's easier said then done. Like in the case of 14-year-old Maggie Davis.

"Come on, Mag, you've got to come out of there," urged her mother, Paige Davis.

Maggie was hugging Jasper, her 7-month-old lamb, for the last time. It was a difficult and tearful separation for Maggie.

"This is the first time I've showed an animal and didn't bring it home," she said.

In the past, she showed rabbits.

Jasper weighed 51 pounds when she got him. On Friday, he was up to 121 pounds.

She vowed to be back next year with another lamb.

"I'm just hoping it will be a lot easier," she said.

"I bawled my eyes out the first year," said Rachel Burkhart, 19, as she was putting Rocky, her Boer goat, into his pen. She's shown nine goats over the years.

"I'm getting Rocky back," she said.

His buyer, Bucky's LTD Auto Body of Martinsburg, is sending Rocky back to Burkhart instead of to the livestock auction. It's a common practice for the local businessman, who fair officials said has bought many animals at the auction over the years.

Burkhart, like many youngsters who raise fair animals, markets her animals before the sale by contacting prospective buyers.

She also bakes those who buy her animals a pie as an appreciation gift.

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