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Austin Beaumont shows his grand champion steer, Gus, to a room of potential buyers Friday during the meat animal sale at the Rock County 4-H Fair in Janesville.

JANESVILLE

It was an excellent meat animal sale thanks to a strong turnout and great weather Friday at the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Sale co-chairman Ryan George said despite fewer 4-H exhibitors this year, bidders spent $408,569 during the sale.

It started at 9 a.m., but with 459 animals to sell, it lasted almost five hours. For those in attendance who aren’t bidding, the drone of the auctioneer and the light breeze inside the sale arena could have brought on a midday nap.

Of the 459 animals sold, 133 were lambs, 298 were barrows and 28 were steers.

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Kasen Demrow of Fulton 4-H waits for his reserve grand champion steer carcass to be auctioned off Friday at the Rock County 4-H Fair in Janesville.

The children who raised the animals gathered at the edge of the hog barn. One by one, they filed into the sale arena when their names were called.

They held brightly colored signs displaying their name and club. Many signs said “THANK YOU!” in big letters. Some included photos of the animals up for bid.

Bidders in the audience held packets that listed the weights and breeds of each animal. The voice of auctioneer Dean George—Ryan’s uncle—of George Auction Service cut through the air, typically sounding something like this during the barrow sale:

“Two, gimme two, gimme two, TWO! Two dollar quarter now, 25, two, 25, two dollar quarter, now half, gimme half! Two-seventy-five, half, 75, 75! Three, 75, three, 75, three, 75, SOLD! For $2.75.”

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Dean George of George Auction Service walks through the crowd during the meat animal sale Friday at the Rock County 4-H Fair in Janesville.

Bidding started at $2 per pound for barrows and increased 25 cents per bid. Most pigs sold somewhere around $3 per pound, although Logan Bennett’s 279-pound grand champion barrow sold for $12.50 per pound to Jake’s Electric in Clinton.

Once a child’s animal was sold, he or she grabbed a sheet confirming the buyer and left the building. Some filed into the crowd to shake hands and say thank you. A few, such as Kaden Butts of Evansville 4-H, gave gifts to their buyers.

When it was Butts’ turn in the arena to sell his two pigs, his sister, Emerson, joined him.

She carried two pink gift bags in her hands.

The bags held sweets from Gigi’s Cupcakes in Madison. Jayson Butts, their father, suggested the idea a few years ago, their mom, Courtney, said.

“I just figured it would be nice since they were buying our animals, it would be polite to give them a gift,” Kaden said.

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Kasey Wileman holds a sign as his reserve grand champion barrow carcass is auctioned off Friday at the Rock County 4-H Fair in Janesville.

Gratitude for the buyers continued right until the end. When Shelby Ward of Turtle 4-H came up as the final exhibitor, Dean George encouraged the thinning crowd to spend what they had left.

It isn’t easy being last. Ward knew this, so she made fliers and distributed them to bidders long before her name was called.

She started laughing as the bids rolled in. She was a little nervous and is prone to laughing easily, she said.

Her two pigs netted $3.75 per pound and $3.50 per pound. She was really happy with the prices, she said.

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Dean George of George Auction Service scans the crowd as Austin Beaumont’s grand champion steer is auctioned off Friday at the Rock County 4-H Fair in Janesville.

Ward’s mom, Katie, said Shelby, 15, saved up paychecks over the past year to buy her pigs and their feed.

Ryan George said some of the repeat bidders, such as Woodman’s or 4-H booster clubs, are approaching some major lifetime contributions. Some people bought his animals years ago, and now they buy his kids’ animals, he said.

For full fair coverage, including a daily schedule, go to Gazettextra.com/fair.

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Abbey Hoffman with La Prairie 4-H smiles at the crowd as her reserve grand champion barrow is auctioned off Friday at the Rock County 4-H Fair in Janesville.

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