WAPAKONETA — Waiting to go into the auction ring for the Auglaize County Junior Fair Livestock Sale on Friday, the Reserve Champion Beef Steer “Springsteen” couldn’t stop giving his 9-year-old showman affectionate licks with his long tongue.
“He always licks me,” Montana Hulsmeyer said smiling after he sold.
The Botkins girl never expected to earn such an honor with her first steer project at the county fair, but she has been practicing for it for years, having begun showing in Pee Wee shows when she was 3-years-old.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Hulsmeyer, who at 80 pounds weighs just a fraction of what Springsteen does.
They now stand eye-to-eye and the time she spent preparing him for the fair was apparent.
Family described it as 24 hours a day, seven days a week the pair spent together and a special babysitter that would go out to the barn with them was hired for the girls. Hulsmeyer, who also showed hogs this year, said she and Springsteen played rodeo a lot.
Despite the obvious bond, Hulsmeyer said selling him at auction is just a part of it.
“I’m pretty used to it,” Hulsmeyer said. “I’ve had so many heifers go away. I know I will get new ones and I always have pictures to look at. It’s part of farm life.”
The money she earned selling Springsteen will pay for the food that fed him, with some put aside in a bank account for college. Hulsmeyer said she also may use some of it to buy another steer for next year.
Mike Egbert, of Mike’s Barn and Yard Connection and High Noon Feeds, said he loves bidding on animals at the Auglaize County Fair.
“I love to support the kids, to help them out with their projects,” the Swanders businessman said.
He said the fair — and the people at it — is one of the best places youth can be because of the good examples set before them, the networking they get to do, and the opportunity to meet people from all over the area.
When youth come and ask Egbert to bid on their animals he always tries to do so, as well as to support those who do business with him.
Keith Houser, 10, of Wapakoneta, works hard to prepare letters sent to potential buyers each year prior to the fair.
“We send them to people we work with and it means a lot when they come out and bid at the sale,” said Houser, who showed a steer again this year at the fair.
Proceeds from the sale of this year’s steer, Elliot, are to go toward purchasing a steer for next year’s fair, Houser said.
Ted Miller, of Miller’s Corral, said he likes to support the area youth and has been doing so at the livestock sale for as long as he can remember. He bids on about every type of animal for sale at the auction.
“The youth work hard and I don’t do a lot of advertising so this is my way to give back,” Miller said.
Mackenzie Turner, 18, of Waynesfield, switched from showing goats to showing a turkey her last year of 4-H.
She was happy she made the switch.
Turner, who had always shown goats before, said she loved her turkey, which she decided to take after another member of her 4-H club, Taylor Lowe, who earned champion market turkey tom and reserve champion market turkey hen at this year’s fair, brought a baby to their club for a demonstration.
“They are so interesting,” said Turner, who captured reserve champion with her market turkey tom. “I didn’t know anything before.”
She revealed the turkey is a completely different animal than the goats she is used to showing, but she didn’t miss them.
Turner said the turkey also is more work.
“I will be sad when he is gone, but it is how we eat,” Turner said of her turkey.
She planned to put what she could of her fair earnings toward her tuition to Ashland University in the fall.
“It’s bittersweet,” Turner said of her last year showing at the fair. “I will miss being out here with the animals all summer. I will probably never have another one again since I am done with 4-H, but it was a great experience.”
Kiara Roof, 12, started a bank account this year to start saving earnings from selling her goats each year at the fair.
She said they aren’t real hard to get ready to show, they just need bathed and their hair and hoofs cut. In the ring, each goat can have a little different personality, affecting how they act, but that keeps it fun.
Jessica Motter, 17, of Waynesfield, has shown rabbits for eight years. Her dad had always shown steer, but she wanted to do something a little smaller, so she tried rabbits.
“They are easier to raise than a big animal and fun to be around,” Motter said, sharing that she has learned a lot about animals from raising them.
“The first few years I got pretty attached, but I don’t let myself do that anymore and I don’t name them,” she said. “I can’t do that because it is too hard when they go. Sometimes it is still hard.”
Appreciative of those who bid on her pen of rabbits this year, Motter said she wrote a lot of letters before the sale to try to get people to buy them, and makes a sign to hang above her pen and sends thank you notes after the sale.
“It’s all very important,” Motter said. “If I didn’t send the buyer letters and thank yous, I wouldn’t get the money I do. I work really hard at it.”
She said most of the money she earns she saves for college. Since she plans to become a veterinarian, her time spent working with animals in 4-H has given her the experience she needs looking into her future.
“I love the fair,” Motter said.