Sales complete a season of growth

Youngsters take animals they’ve raised by hand to the auction block at fair

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

Published:

 
photoJordawna Klaas, 11, gives her 4-H reserve grand champion lamb Rambo a good-luck kiss just before his turn in the auction ring Saturday at the Junior Livestock Auction at the Clark County Fair.

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If you go

• What: Clark County Fair.

• Hours Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• Where: 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

• Admission: Adults, $10; seniors 62 and older, $8; kids 7-12, $7 after 5 p.m.; kids 6 and younger, free. Group packs available for admission discounts daily.

• Getting there: Parking, $6 per vehicle. C-Tran shuttle, $2 round-trip from park-and-ride lots around the area. C-Tran riders get a $1 discount on fair admission. Shuttle schedules: http://c-tran.com/assets/CCFair/2011/C-TRAN_Fair_Shuttle_Schedules_2011b.pdf.

• Carnival: Noon to 10 p.m.; unlimited rides, $30.

• Grandstands: Monster Trucks & Pro Arena Tuff Trucks, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., free with fair admission.

• Other highlights: Fair Court speeches, 2 p.m.; Fair Court coronation, 8 p.m.

• Pets: Not permitted, except for personal service animals or those on exhibition or in competition.

• Send your fair photos to The Columbian:www.columbian.com...>

• More information:http://clarkcofair.com or 360-397-6180.

photoAmanda Pereira, from left, Trisha Horenstein, Brendan Mayhew and Julie Helmandollar wait their turn to show at the auction.

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photoBill Martin gets 2011 grand champion Joseph ready for showing at the Junior Livestock Auction.

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Jordawna Klaas told herself she wouldn’t cry this year. Not very much, anyway.

“I said I might shed a tear or two,” said the 11-year-old from Ridgefield.

Jordawna didn’t cry after the Clark County Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction on Saturday. But as she waited in line to take center stage, she turned to the first of her two lambs in the auction, Rambo.

“Say goodbye to your buddy,” she said.

Then, to George:

“You say goodbye to your buddy.”

Eventually, Jordawna said goodbye to both lambs she’s spent the past year raising. This was her third year at the auction, which marks a bittersweet occasion for local youth participants in Future Farmers of America and 4-H. After many months of caring for and feeding the animals — and covering the costs that go with them — the auction represents the payoff, when the livestock is sold at above-market prices.

It’s also the day youths part with the animals before they’re taken to the slaughterhouse.

Most participants say the first year is the most difficult. Jared O’Dell of Hockinson echoed that sentiment.

“The first year, it’s really hard, because you’ve grown attached to your sheep,” he said.

Jared has sold at the auction for five years. He’s become accustomed to the reality of the process during that time, he said. Now he doesn’t even name his animals.

The auction is a well-organized operation, whisking dozens of lambs, rabbits, steers, goats and poultry in and out of the ring. One animal is barely sold before the next comes in, the auctioneer’s voice resuming a breathless, rapid-fire chatter.

Organizers started this year’s auction with a singing of the national anthem. Buyers, sellers and parents covered their hearts, listening to the notes over the frequent “baa” of lambs around them.

Some young sellers petted their animals in line. Others looked for finishing grooming touches to make.

“This is the day when everybody’s nervous,” said Sarah Jasmer, Jordawna’s mother.

With a 4-H reserve grand champion lamb, Jordawna was near the front of the line Saturday. After Rambo fetched a price of $3.75 per pound, or $468.75, George sold for $3 per pound, or $309.

The prices are higher than normal, but often, so are the participants’ costs to raise them. The process offers valuable experience for young sellers who bring a good product for their buyers, said Kelley Babcock, chairman of the fair’s auction committee. Jasmer wishes more buyers could be involved to help them.

“They do a great job of raising quality animals,” Babcock said.

Jordawna took on more responsibility this year, overseeing all aspects of her animals’ care, Jasmer said. Jordawna covered many of her costs with proceeds from past years’ livestock sales, she said.

“I’m a pretty proud mom, because she did it all herself this year,” Jasmer said. “She did everything.”

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541 or eric.florip@columbian.com.