Auctioneer Cracker Johnson jokes about not being able to read the handwriting on a youth fair member’s announcement sheet just as the swine is about to go in front of a crowd of 400 potential bidders.
“I could have been a doctor with my handwriting and I can read mine,” the award-winning caller and owner of Affinity Auction Group tells the crowd. “If I can’t read your handwriting, it’s very bad.”
But after a quick translation that 290-pound swine goes on the block and sells for $2.75 a pound—netting $797.50.
Spotters flank the auctioneer and are pointing to bidders as the price-per-pound quickly rises.
The live and virtual auction is the finale of the five-day long Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show that started March 5—the first event held at the newly renovated Agriculture and Equestrian Center in Newberry.
Samantha Day is in the ring showing off a Yorkshire Hampshire swine she raised as part of the Newberry High School’s FFA program. The six-month-old pig weighs in at 238 pounds.
When the gavel hit, the auctioneer had reached $12.50 a pound. With a $450 add-on, Day netted $2,975.
According to Day, who is a junior at NHS, the money from this sale goes into a college fund as she prepares for a future career in marine biology.
For eight years, Day has shown and sold her swine at the event, once she becomes a senior next year, that will be her last go at it.
“It’s my eighth year,” Day said about selling a market swine. “You expect it, but I cry every year.”
Day, 15, said her takeaway from participating is a lesson in patience and responsibility. “You have to walk them, feed them, make sure the heat lamp is on, add extra shavings, make sure the water is on,” Day said. “It’s the responsibility and routine that I can carry on into my life.”
High Springs Community School fifth grader Peyton Osteen sold his 244-pound market swine for $12 a pound to bidder William Copeland, netting $2,928.
Osteen, 11, said it’s his second time showing a pig and it is sad to say goodbye.
His takeaway: “It’s all about how you show, what you do, and it’s not all about money,” Osteen said. “It’s what your passion is doing the sport.”
First-time steer competitor Kyle Thrift of NHS FFA was getting ready to part with his Charolais Brangus project that he named “Meatloaf.”
The steer sold to Florida Heritage Beef for $4 a pound and weighed in at 1,326 pounds, bringing the net total to $5,304 with a $325 add-on.
Thrift said he learned a lot of “business end stuff” by doing interviews and writing bidder letters.
“This steer has taught me so much,” he said.
Lorrie Smith, a 4-H leader in Windsor and treasurer for the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show said once the animals are auctioned off, 7.5 percent of the price goes back into the fair pot to cover costs of hosting the event.
This year, the pandemic caused the organization to also host the auction online.
“It forced us to make the auction virtual and this is the way it’s going anyway,” she said. “So it just pushed us in that direction sooner.”
To see the outcome of the market auction and who the winning bidders were, click here.