TRUMBULL COUNTY FAIR Going, going, gone! Highest bids buy kids' 4-H projects

The money is often used to finance future fair projects.
BAZETTA -- In the far right corner of the sale building, a small crew bustled around a tall counter, filing some papers, stacking others.
At the center of the building, a wire fence enclosed a raised, sawdust-covered stage. Rows of empty folding chairs surrounded the platform.
In less than two hours, 4-H kids would guide their animals around that stage, auctioning off their months of hard work to the highest bidder.
The 4-H Livestock Sale has been an annual event of the Trumbull County Fair for more than 50 years, said Jan Solomon, junior fair coordinator.
Some facts: It was started by the Beef Boosters to sell baby beef, and has since grown to include hogs, rabbits, lambs, poultry, goats and steers.
Each animal brings a different price in the auction-style sale, which determines an animal's price by how much it weighs.
Some steers have gone for more than $3,000, Solomon said, while hogs usually don't bring in more than $300 apiece.
The kids often use the money to finance next year's project, or put it toward a college fund.
"Then there's some who go and buy things," Solomon said. "There were two or three kids last year who used the checks to buy cars."
Of course, it all depends on how much money parents allow the kids to keep.
"Some parents believe the kids should know the cost of raising an animal," she said. "I had one parent who made the kid actually pay rent on the barn he kept the animal in!"
Buyers' support: Many buyers at the auction are former 4-H'ers themselves and like to support the kids in the organization.
This sometimes amounts to a lot of support. One year, when pork was going for 10 cents a pound in the "real world," it went for more than $2 per pound at the auction, Solomon said.
Jan Buber volunteers her services to the sale as a clerk -- it's up to her to keep track of who bought what and how much they paid.
"A lot of times, they'll buy the animal here, then don't have to see it again until they go to the packing house," Buber said, laughing.
"Then, it comes in little packages for the freezer."
Buber said in that all the years she's worked the auction, which sometimes lasts more than six hours, she's never seen an animal that didn't draw at least a mild bidding war.
"We appreciate everyone who comes here," she said. "Not just the buyers, but the backup bidders, too. It takes at least two people to get the bid up for these kids."
Paul Aaron of Fowler showed up early at the auction and sat perusing the buyer's guide. He's been attending the sale for years, and likes to help out the 4-H'ers.
"They do a good job. They work hard," said Aaron, whose own children were in 4-H.
"They're a great bunch of kids."

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