4-H livestock sale beings family together

HUGHESVILLE – The kids of 4-H showcase their hard work and earn a pretty penny as their friends and family cheer them on at the Lycoming County Fair 4-H Livestock Show and Sale.

The stands are filled with supporters. People are spilling out on to the hay-covered ground. Some bring their own chairs, proving to be the veterans of this event, but most attempt to squeeze in close to their neighbor on the bleachers.

Some spectators are sucking down soda through a straw in their super-sized cups. Others, usually representing a company like Hoss’s Steak and Sea House or Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships, prepare to bid during the auction.

But most of the crowd is socializing with the other spectators that surround them. The atmosphere at the event is closer to that of a family reunion than a sale.

The smell of the stocks appears to bother no one. The day is not about comfort or glamour. The day is about supporting the children of 4-H.

Today is Lycoming County Fair’s 4-H Livestock Show and Sale.

A livestock show is an event where animals are presented and judged on certain observable breed traits. A variety of species of livestock can be shown at a single event, including pigs, cattle, sheep and goats. They are judged on muscle, bone structure, frame size, style and balance.

Showmanship, or how well the kids exhibit their animal, also is a crucial tool if participants want their livestock to be crowned Grand Champion.

After the judging, the children and young adults of 4-H have the opportunity to sell their prize-winning livestock to the highest bidder in a lively auction.

The auctions help promote 4-H programs, specifically their concept of “Learn by Doing.”

The livestock auction marks the completion of many members’ project efforts. It is the final step, when the animals they’ve cared for are sold to the public. This event is where the educational marketing aspects of the youth’s livestock project comes into play.

Proud mom Roschele Snyder, of Unityville, whose daughter Katie Snyder received the Lycoming County 4-H Endowment Scholarship, waited anxiously on the bleachers for the sale to begin.

“Most people show up to support the 4-H kids,” Snyder said. “It’s important to us that they get a good price.”

After the scholarships and awards are presented, the auction begins; pigs first, steer second.

Lycoming County Fair’s auctioneers excel at keeping the atmosphere lively but the true stars of the show are the animals.

Some hogs take their sweet time getting out onto the show floor but the auctioneers pick up the slack, joking that the livestock are experiencing a bit of stage fright. The laughter of the crowd fills a potential awkward silence and offers the kids a little extra time to coerce their livestock into the ring.

Once the gate closes behind them, the pigs dart around their enclosure with great vigor, often without so much as a poke from their handlers.

A trend begins to emerge as the more exuberant the hog, the more entertained the crowd, the more aggressive the bidders.

Youth livestock sales provide buyers, whether they be individuals or businesses, with high quality, drug-free meats, and a tax deductible purchase.

The members of 4-H have the opportunity to see the worth of their hard work. For example, the grand champion market hog, weighing in at 256 pounds, was sold for $775.

And ultimately, for those who are neither showing nor buying, the auction is a unique source of entertainment.

One Lycoming County resident brought her granddaughters to last year’s show and returned with them this year.

“They don’t have any animals at home, so it’s good for them,” she shares. “They just love it”