The following is a press release from the Redwood Empire Fair:
Over 220 exhibitors entered their livestock in this year’s Redwood Empire Fair, tempting buyers with poultry, rabbits, sheep, goats, swine and beef. And according to Fair CEO Jennifer Seward, though the exact totals will be available soon, Fair Staff are confident in reporting that this year’s auction totals broke another record, with sales projected to exceed $1,135,791.00 This figure does not include outright purchases.
This year’s entries totaled 225, compared to last year’s 201. Last year’s total sales were $1,126,603. The divisions of sales are divided into 11 sections- 4H Goat, Hog, Lamb and Steer, FFA Goat, Hog, Lamb and Steer and Market Turkeys, Poultry Meat Pen and Rabbit Meat Pen.
Sales of 4H Market Steer saw a decrease this year- from $253,860.00 in 2022 to $198,316.00. 4H Goat Sales also saw a decrease, with bids in 2022 totaling $27,994.00.
Bids in 2023 totaled $17,838.00. But sales of 4H Market Swine increased significantly from $289,178 in 2022 to $328,580.00. Lamb also saw an increase from 2022’s total bids of $46,523.00 to $69,479.00 at Saturday’s auction.
2022’s FFA bids on beef were $238,283.00 beating out this year’s bids of $223,444.00 2022’s goat bidding came to $23,335.00, with Saturday’s bids totaling $21,537.00. Sheep were nearly equal, with 2022’s bids of $41,506.00 nearly matching the 2023 bids of $41, 560.00 FFA Market hogs totaled $172,224.00 in 2022, and $160,637 in 2023.
Bidding on turkeys went up exponentially this year. 2022’s bids totaled $6,300.00, and this year’s bids topped out at $$21,600.00 Poultry bids also increased dramatically, with last year’s bids at $8,100.00 and this year’s at $16,800.00. Finally, rabbits saw a huge increase, with 2022 bids totaling $19,300.00 and this year’s bids “hopping” up to $36,000.00.
Redwood Empire CEO Jennifer Seward lays all the credit for the success of the livestock auction at the feet of two individuals- Stacy Anderson- the Junior Livestock Animal Chairperson, and Mendocino County Fair Livestock Coordinator Jim Brown, who comes over from Boonville every year to lend a hand at Ukiah’s Fair.
“I grew up in 4H,” says Anderson. She currently has two sons, one of whom showed a market steer at this year’s fair. She credits the greater community for the continuous decades of support for the livestock auction. “These animals would normally be receiving something around $1 per pound at the traditional market. Here, they are
getting $20-$30 per pound.” She stresses the seriousness of the commitment it takes to raise an animal from babyhood to showing age. “Providing the right food to your animal is very important. It’s a very scientific process- making sure your animal has the appropriate type of food for their growth needs. Kids are responsible for talking to the feed store reps, the feed companies, the breeders and to understand the underlying genetics that their animal has. It’s not just purchasing an animal; They have to understand how important follow-through is.”
The kids make a tremendous amount of sacrifices to participate in the auction. “They’re up at 5:00 AM every day. I’d guess that at the fair, 90% of them are completely detached from social media- there just isn’t time,” she continues. “What our 4H and FFA leaders are teaching is so much more than how to raise an animal: it’s teamwork, community input, developing work ethics and public speaking.”
Kelly Brackett is the Vice-President of the Junior Livestock Animal program. “Our community is so supportive. I cannot overstress this,” she continues. “Our community doesn’t have a whole lot to offer our kids, so things like FFA provide so much for them.”
The impact of programs like this is “huge,” notes Jeremy Donahoo, CEO of Donahoo Inc. He and his partner Stacey purchased about 11 animals at the auction, which they intend to donate to the Deer Association and their 75 employees.
“It’s all about promoting the work ethic for me,” says Jerry. “I like this better than anything.”
“I showed here when I was young,” smiles Stacy Donahoo. “Now it’s my turn to help to support those people who helped me.”
To that end, Anderson notes that she has received several recent inquiries about becoming an adult 4H or FFA leader. “This is exactly what we need,” she says. “These are people who really recognized the benefits of the programs as kids and want to give back as adults.”
She notes it takes a family’s time, dedication and commitment to be a part of the organizations, but that the rewards are well worth the effort.
“The kids learn so many life skills that help them become successful, regardless of where life takes them. And in turn, they become a part of this big, loving family,” she concludes, pointing to the dozens of families and children exiting the animal barns after a successful day at the auction.