Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico
With Tell Runyan and his steer projected on the big screen, auctioneer Tommy Williams is looking to make a deal.
A chant of, “Do I have 51? Do I have 51?” echoes through the Curry County Events Center. Hearing none, Williams declares, “I just sold that steer for $5,000.”
The sale was the first of 107 at the Curry County Junior Livestock sale, with sales totaling $286.764.30. That’s up from last year’s total of $254,000 between 112 animals.
While fairgoers were paying $8 for turkey legs a few hundred yards away, live animals were selling at the events center for thousands to sporadic applause.
The $5,000 Runyon received was about $3,900 above market value, with the profit provided via area merchants.
Tanner Allen of Grady, now a sophomore at Frank Phillips College, said he’s been showing animals at the sale, “since I’ve been able to” and the $5,500 he landed for his grand champion dairy heifer will help with school expenses.
The market value of Allen’s heifer was $786. Buyers can pay the full sale price and keep the animal, or give the animal back and pay the difference between the sale price and market value.
Proceeds from the animal sales go to the youth that raised the animals. Any profits they keep after the expenses of feeding and raising the animal are put into savings or rolled into next year’s projects.
Allen said he’s never been attached to the animals he raises for the sale, and didn’t even bother naming his heifer. Morgan Pinnell of Texico was slightly more attached to Lucy the lamb.
“I did name that one,” said Pinnell, a senior at Texico High who showed four other lambs at the fair.
Prior to the sale, a free barbecue dinner is served. During the dinner, the youth bring refreshments and promote their animals. If their animal is purchased, it’s customary to make some sort of gift basket for the buyer.
A box full of bread, apples, lemons and even a pineapple went to Joe Rhodes, who went in on a purchase with Bender GM and Public Land Commissioner candidate and Roosevelt County rancher Matt Rush. Rhodes, well-known as “Papa Joe” from Joe’s Boot Shop, said the sale is a good-faith transaction.
“(It’s) because they’re my customers,” Rhodes said, before motioning jokingly toward auctioneer assistant Wayne Kinman, who propped himself up with a cane as he looked for bidders. “He’ll make you bid. He’s got a stick.”
Pinnell has been doing the sale for eight years, and said every year is special in its own way.
“I think it’s always exciting,” Pinnell said. “It’s pretty cool to see all these people supporting all of us.”