Many Wyoming county fairs saw increased, record livestock sale receipts
By Katie Shockley
Most county fairs across the state are reporting an unexpected phenomenon during the current economic downturn – an increase in total gross sales at junior livestock auctions compared to previous years.
Over half of the counties reported an increase, with the rest reporting similar or slightly lower sale numbers from previous years.
Albany, Park, Teton and Washakie counties had record sales.
In Albany County, the highest gross sale had been about $450,000, and this year this number was surpassed with a record-breaking $600,000.
“I really don’t know the reason,” said Albany County 4-H Educator Mary Louise Wood. “Everybody is super appreciative. It still gives me goose bumps.”
The idea of a record-breaking sale was also a shock for Park County 4-H Educator Tycee Brown.
According to Brown, Park County tried an online auction format for the first time this year, in order to help people who may be concerned about attending the sale for health reasons or even allow family and friends from far away to participate and watch.
Hogs, lambs, goats and rabbits were all reportedly up in numbers from last year, while beef was slightly down. One goat sold for $120 per pound, setting a new record from the previous of $75 per pound.
“I’m just very grateful we have been able to have livestock shows and sales in Wyoming. We have such good community support, not just here in Park County but around the state as well,” said Brown.
Teton County reported an almost 20 percent sale increase from last year.
“My guess as to why it might be higher is because the people who have the money felt a swell of emotional support for the kids and families in the program,” said Teton County 4-H Educator Glenn Owings.
Owings also thought the fair received more attention than normal because there hasn’t been a lot going on.
Washakie County 4-H Educator Amber Armajo had no explanation for the increase in numbers, but said it was the best they have ever had.
“I went back and did a spreadsheet for history purposes and found the highest bottom dollar and the highest averages ever,” said Armajo.
Others around the state have been pleasantly surprised by the turnout at livestock auctions at fairs this year despite economic concerns.
“We were worried, but our community held strong and showed up to support our kids,” said Johnson County 4-H Educator Bryce McKenzie. “The kids are very fortunate during these uncertain economic times that our society has faced.”
Crook County 4-H Educator Sara Fleenor also reported Crook County’s Livestock Sale grossed higher than last year.
“We had a great turnout. I think a few reasons for this were that people wanted to support kids. We also advertised heavily that our packing plants had spots reserved for those animals to be processed within the next two weeks, so there was no need to wait on their meat,” said Fleenor.
Despite a small decrease in Natrona County, 4-H Educator Joddee Jacobsen said she believes the county still had an outstanding sale.
“I think it’s important to remember Casper and Natrona County have been hit especially hard with the decline of oil exploration, drilling and fracking,” said Jacobsen. “I think even with the slight decline, we still had the top sale in the state, in regard to the total amount earned at the sale.”
The Natrona County sale grossed about $878,000, which was only down about $10,000 from the previous year.
This article was written by Katie Shockley and is courtesy of the University of Wyoming. For more information, visit uwagnews.com or e-mail Shockley at firstname.lastname@example.org.