Youngsters who are members of the Lawrence County Junior Livestock Association are looking for people who want to stock their freezers with quality meat.
The annual junior livestock auction will get under way at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Lawrence County Fair, where the show arena typically will pack in hundreds of bidders looking not only to buy animals for their meat, but to support the young farmers who raise them all year as their 4-H and FFA projects.
In 4-H, students participate up to age 18. In FFA, they can exhibit their animals at the fair until they are 24.
In addition to feeding their animals and keeping track of their weights and health and grooming, the youths through their organizations have been feverishly writing letters to local businesses, encouraging them to come out and buy their animals and support them and the local farm industry.
They also have been knocking on doors to introduce themselves in person, to persuade business owners about what a good advertising event it is, as well.
That's not to mention a free lunch of homemade barbecued beef and pork sandwiches and cookies for the buyers as an added benefit of the sale.
The market animal shows and judging at the Lawrence County Fair culminate each year with livestock auction, which is conducted by local professional auctioneers.
Local businesses, friends, family and other members of the public are encouraged to attend, and typically fill the show arena, and they don't need an invitation. The event is public, for anyone to bid on and purchase beef, pigs, sheep, goats, poultry and rabbits raised as projects by the 4-H and FFA youths.
The proceeds each youth nets from his or her animals typically will go toward his or her next project or into a the youth's college education fund. Some of the proceeds also go to the livestock association for other promotions and events.
Michonda Whiting Weber, a parent of two youths in the Baby Beef Club, explained that businesses that buy from the youths' sale benefit through publicity that stretches throughout the year.
The students whose animals are purchased are taught to send thank-you letters or notes to the buyers, and they put up signs in their barns and stalls showing the buyers names. A list of those names also is posted online on the association's website, and they will be able to see their names all year long.
She pointed out that similar sales in Ohio attract many of the car dealers as buyers, because a lot of the farmers buy trucks from them to transport their animals or related gear.
Local restaurants traditionally have taken photos of grand champion animals they've bought at the sale and displayed them in their establishments, showing that they promote the sale.
Buyers who plan to attend the auction will need to pay the admission cost to the fair.
The order of Saturday's sale will be: the sale of champions — the species grands and reserve grands, including species grand and reserve grand carcasses; steer, turkey, hogs, rabbits, goats, poultry and lambs. The sale typically lasts until 4 p.m.
Payment for the purchases will be accepted in the forms of cash, check or money order. Checks must be payable to: PSCE Lawrence County. A $35 service fee, in addition to any bank fees, will be charged for each check returned for any reason.
Once buyers make their purchase, they have the option of putting the purchased animals in their own freezers (packer information to be provided) or donating the animal back to be resold through the auction,with proceeds to go to one of the following: Lawrence County 4-H, the Jr. Livestock Association, or the FFA Chapters of Laurel, Mohawk Area or Wilmington Area School Districts.
If a buyer purchases an animal with another person or business, they need to select the same processor for the animal and should confer with each other in advance and let the people at checkout know where the animal is to be processed. Packer information also will be provided.