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Carson Willis shows her steer at the Alachua Youth Fair Livestock Sale and Auction.

GAINESVILLE – After a year of working with his steer, Briar Mitchell got 16-month-old Ace to stop head-butting him.

Nine-year-old Briar, member of the Archer Trailblazers, was able to control his steer at his first Alachua County Youth Fair Livestock Sale and receive $4.50 per pound. Ace was the second best steer at the sale.

Briar was one of the hundreds of kids who were selling their market animals at the charity sale held by the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show Association on Tuesday.

Chenoa Dixon, fair board president, said this annual auction is a way for kids to raise money for their hard work. Children who participate range from ages 5 to 18 years old.

The animals brought to the auction are market and breeding animals such as steers, hogs, goats and rabbits.

“All the market animals get sent off to be harvested and breeding animals continue to be raised,” Dixon said.

After 35 years, the auction continues to bring the community together.

“Exhibitors work on this program all year and come and show off their skills,” Dixon said.

Those skills include how the kids raised their animals so they can behave and remain calm in front of a big group of people, she said. They also show what they have learned and market their animals by recruiting sponsors, family, friends and different companies to come out to the auction to support them.

This year, there were more than 300 exhibitors and more than 500 animals. Of those 500, 126 were market animals, which were all sold. Market animals included hogs, goats and steers, Dixon said.

The grand champion market animals were a 1,135 lbs. steer that was sold for $6 per pound, a 100 lbs. goat sold for $10 per pound and a 279 lbs. pig sold for $4 per pound.

Whitney Jerkins, member of the Santa Fe FFA, had the highest bid of $12 for her 210 lbs hog.

The average sale per pound for the animals is $3 to $5 but it depends on the type of animal, Dixon said.

Although the attendance for each auction seems to be a large group, Dixon said it’s always the same companies and exhibitors and she said it would be great if more people participated.

“The fair really depends on the community and their support,” she said.

Three large companies that regularly attend the event are Santa Fe Ford and Power Sports, Florida Farm Bureau General Insurance and Rays Metal Works, Inc., said Cindy Sanders, extension director.

Some of the other buyers that attend the event are returning exhibitors. Since kids are allowed to sell their animals from age 5 until their last year of high school, former sellers support the current participants by bidding.

Richard Feagle, Archer Automotive and Tire owner, used to bring his two sons for about eight years when they were young to show their own hogs and steers. During Tuesday’s auction, Feagle was in the audience as a buyer. He has been a buyer for eight years and purchases hogs and steers. This year he bought five hogs.

Jason Breeden is also a former exhibitor when he was a child, and now his kids participate in the sale.

His kids, Garison Breeden, 11, and Kayley Breeden, 13, both sold steers this year.

Jason Breeden said this event helps the children learn about responsibility, among other things.

“It’s a good learning experience for the kids,” he said.

A returning participant, who has been involved in the auction before, said this was her last year. Tori Banner, 17, from Micanopy Friendship 4-H Club, sold her steer for $2 per pound.

Banner said she started showing animals when she was 10 years old. The first animal she showed was a goat.

“This is my last year,” she said. “I’m excited and it mean I’m going to miss it but I’m excited to move on. It’s bittersweet.”

Some of the kids not only take away money from the event but life lessons through the work they have done all year with their animals.

Fifteen-year-old Wyatt O’Grady, also from the Micanopy Friendship 4-H Club, said he learned to treat animals with respect.

“It teaches you disciple and makes you a better person,” he said.

O’Grady sold a market goat for $3.25 per pound.

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