This year, for the first time, the Wise County Youth Fair auction will be a premium sale.
That means instead of loading their animal projects on a truck headed for slaughter after the Saturday sale, exhibitors will take their animals home.
Wise County Youth Fair Board President Evan Culpepper said the decision was made in June because in recent years few exhibitors actually put their animals on the truck, and therefore, fewer packers were submitting bids to haul them away.
“The people who were giving the floor price wanted us to say how many we were going to have,” Culpepper said. “They didn’t want to send a truck for a partial load. They wanted a full load if possible. It was hard to do that.”
Board Vice President Danny Schertz said families were choosing not to put their animals on the truck because they were able to sell them to individuals for more than the floor price.
For example, he explained that there were years that the floor price for hogs was 20 to 30 cents per pound, but he was able to sell exhibitors’ hogs to individuals for much more.
“I’ve sold hogs for $150 to $250,” he said. “If we could guarantee (the packer) a full trailer load, (the floor price) would probably go up. We couldn’t guarantee that so they always bid lower.”
Liz Hubbard, secretary of the Youth Fair board, said last year that only seven steers were put on the truck – and just 13 hogs out of about 200.
“The goats and the lambs are the biggest ship items that we have (at the Youth Fair),” Schertz said. “If a kid doesn’t have a place (for their animal), then we’ll try to help them out.”
He explained that the only other option would be to make it a terminal sale, guaranteeing a full trailer load for packers. He said a terminal sale might drive the floor prices up a bit, but he thinks the kids will still have more earning potential by selling to individuals.
He thinks the premium sale is the “lesser of the two evils” when compared to a terminal sale.
Several years ago, the Champions and Blue Ribbon Club was established to purchase the grand and reserve champions in the Youth Fair auction, and local buyers’ associations and individuals purchase the remaining lots. Leadership among the buyers’ associations is concerned about purchasing projects without a floor price and about exhibitors who keep animals at local project centers and may not have a place for them after the fair or who don’t find an individual buyer.
Culpepper realizes the change is unnerving for some people, and he admitted that he doesn’t know if prices will be affected.
“I can’t say whether it will or it won’t,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve had a premium sale here, and if it doesn’t work, we can always adjust it back the other way for the next year.”
Schertz thinks exhibitors will pocket the same amount of money in the end; the math may just be different.
“It’s mainly a numbers deal, but it’s going to be a shock to everybody …,” he acknowledged. “In the end, the money comes out to the same on sale items.”