Auctioneer Matt Westmoreland and his son Colby are walking down the row of tractors as 2-year-old Bohie, Colby’s son, is “checking the oil” on each machine.
It’s Oct. 31st and the morning air is crisp. You can smell the sausage frying on the grill. There’s a herd of cattle grazing just behind the lot filled with grain bins, mowers and tractors ranging from John Deere to Farmall to a vintage Oliver.
Rows and rows of farm equipment are lined up and poised to go on the auction block during this twice-a-year event that draws hundreds of buyers from all over Florida and some from out of state.
“They’re getting to be fewer and fewer and the quality of the stuff is getting less and less, Lake City Farm Equipment Dealer Harvey Faul says as he makes his way through the inventory inspecting the machinery. He said has been attending this auction for several years because he knows the auction draws some of the best merchandise around.
Officially, it’s an event put on by MW Auction, LLC out of High Springs. Some of the merchandise is owned by MW and the rest is on consignment by other farmers. The company was launched by Matt in 2010 and has become a draw for hundreds of bidders.
Before the action begins, Matt climbs into the camper cab of a bright red 1985 Sierra Classic GMC and takes his spot overlooking the crowd.
He goes through the introductions and policies and procedures and then he says, “We’ve got a lot of fish to fry today. It’s gonna be bid and go.”
And with that, the smaller items go on the block first. From vintage milk bottles to wagon wheels, cast iron pans and a bull shaped bbq, Matt and Colby take turns at the microphone.
For Matt, who started auctioneering in 2006, it’s all about the phrasing. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” he says about auctioneering, so he got his license and started a business.
“They don’t license you on your chant,” he says about learning how to conduct an auction. “They license you on what you know about the law.”
Matt says chanting is a work in progress. “You get a little jingle, like singin’ a song,” he says. Colby says a good auctioneer has to, “get a rhythm, be friendly and try to make people have a good time.”
Matt agrees, “If they’re happy, they’re more likely to bid.”
Spotters are positioned throughout the crowd and signal to the auctioneer any time a bid is indicated.
Other auctioneers throughout the region show up to help spot and display equipment calling out item numbers and holding them up overhead so onlookers can get a peek.
“That thing’s got more teeth than Dixie County,” Matt jokes about a saw being held up high.
Dennis Deep of Gainesville brought a bush hog, weed eater and a tractor to sell, but also signed up for a bidder’s paddle. He’s been coming to the Fall auction for several years now.
“I spent more than I’m gonna make,” he said about purchasing a Shopsmith, a grill, and a bumper so far. He and Colby know each other from their Boy Scout days and he said he comes for the fun and to support his friends.
After an hour, Colby switches places with his father and takes over the microphone while Matt stands among the bidders holding up items.
Southeast Regional and State Champion Auctioneer Elton Baldy of Baldy Auctions in Georgia said he comes to this event to pick out some items to take them back to Georgia to sell.
Over the speaker Colby is yelling “have mercy” as the bidders go after teak furniture.
And then a full-size aluminum buffalo goes on the block and steals the show going for more than $1,000.
This auction goes on for most of the day with a weeklong window for farmers to come trailer away their prizes.
Just as Colby predicted before the auction began, it was the John Deere 5095M tractor loader that took the highest bid of the day at $31,500.
And after the field is cleared, another round of farm equipment will start to accrue for the next auction come Spring.
For more information on the MW Auction visit click here.
The next event will be the Spring auction on the last Saturday of March 2021.