One might think that since Kaysha Elmenhorst is in her eighth year of participating in the Allen County Fair, the emotions involved with tonight’s livestock auction might have settled down.
“Oh, I’m going to cry,” Elmenhorst predicted, as she sells her grand champion market lamb. “I cry every year. I get pretty attached to my animals. I’ve worked with them a lot.”
The waterworks began in earnest Tuesday, Elmenhorst said, after she showed her five sheep and four pigs, including her grand champion lamb.
“I didn’t know if I had a shot” at the grand champion ribbon, she said. “Sometimes it’s just luck.”
Maybe not for Elmenhorst, 14-year-old daughter of Chris and Sherry Elmenhorst of rural LaHarpe, who took time on a daily basis to work with her lambs.
Elmenhorst would walk her lambs, hold them as if she were showing them to a judge, then have her mother poke at and feel the animal while holding it posed to re-enact what it would go through in a show arena.
She also rigged up a chariot like device that forced the animals’ front legs on top of the small cart while they walked, in order strengthen their hind legs.
“I tried to work with them once a day,” she said. “I would have done it more, except the heat really limited what we could do. We had to let them rest a lot.”
The fair is the first of three events for Elmenhorst, who will take her other animals in September to the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson and the Junior Livestock Auction in Wichita.
The county fair is good preparation for the larger events, she said.
“The others are harder,” Elmenhorst said. “There are so many people you don’t know and who don’t know you at the Junior Livestock Auction, and you have a bunch of people who are at the State Fair for other things.”
The county fair is more in her comfort zone, Elmenhorst conceded.
At least until it’s time to sell her lamb.
TONIGHT’S 4-H and FFA Lions Club Auction starts at 7 o’clock at the livestock pavilion.
Volunteers will provide support for the sale — members catch bids, log sales and otherwise help out — while local auctioneers, who donate their expertise, sell steers, hogs and lambs raised and shown at the fair by 4-H’ers and FFA members.
The mechanics of the sale will be the same as they have been in the past.
Today’s market prices establish base bids for each class of animals. The young exhibitors are permitted to sell one animal for a premium, more if they’re willing to take only the base bid.
People bidding on the livestock may, and usually do, pay more than the base bids for animals. Any money above the base bid is the “premium” that the young owners receive.
Once an animal is sold one of several things may happen.
The buyer may elect to let the young owner keep the animal, in which case he pays only the premium. If the buyer wants to take possession of the animal, to be butchered or whatever, the full price, base plus premium is paid. If the buyer wants, he may let the animal go to market and pay just the premium; the base bid is paid by a professional packer.
Many of the 4-H and FFA exhibitors sell their livestock to earn money for special things or to put in nest eggs for college educations.
Many businesses participate in the livestock auction each year and individuals also are encouraged to join in. Organizers note that participation is the community’s way of showing its appreciation for the youngsters involved and recognizing the efforts they put in to raise and show the animals.
Swine will be sold first, followed by lambs and then steers. The selling order rotates each year.