HARRISBURG – A 1,340-pound crossbred steer named Robert and three unnamed New Zealand white rabbits with a combined 15-pound weight sold for more than their market values Tuesday at the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show Sale of Champions.
The sale, which highlighted the fourth day of Pennsylvania’s version of a state fair, culminated a year of hard work for the exhibitors. Some appeared sad to sell their animals while others beamed at the sale prices.
Farm Show livestock buyers traditionally pay substantially more than market prices for the grand champions, whose owners usually use the money for careers in agriculture.
The Small Arena buzzed with activity Tuesday as buyers representing meat processing plants, restaurants, grocery stores, various business and friends settled in. Before the sale, the Pennsylvania Farm Show Scholarship Foundation gave $3,500 scholarships to 28 FFA and 4-H youths.
Then Farm Show auctioneer Harry Bachman began selling the grand champions. Bidders nodded and raised their hands subtly as they competed to buy the livestock. Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York County and Penn Waste owner and president, bought five of the top 10 champions.
Meat rabbits debuted Tuesday at the Sale of Champions. Mason Smith, a Mifflinburg Middle School student from Union County, sold his three grand champion meat pen rabbits to Wagner for $2,000.
“This is very exciting,” said Smith, saying he will save the sale money for college. Ruth-Ann Bell, Farm Show Rabbit Committee member, called Tuesday “historic because rabbits are finally recognized here as Pennsylvania livestock.”
The biggest surprise at the sale was the 80-pound grand champion market goat owned by Heidi Barkley of Manns Choice. Wagner set a Farm Show record when he paid $7,700 for the goat. Barkley said she will put the money toward her tuition at Penn State University, where she’s studying animal science.
Robert, the crossbred steer who on Sunday won the Junior Beef Steer award, lumbered into the ring with Chris Jordan of Uniontown, his owner. Within minutes, Fulton Bank and Bell & Evans Poultry had the winning bid of $16,500 for the steer with a market value of $1,541.
“For 25 years, we’ve been supporting youth at the Farm Show,” said Ted Bowers, Fulton Bank senior vice president and director of agricultural banking. “They put a lot of time and effort into these quality animals. The youth are our future.”
McKenzie Stadtmiller of Dayton sold her grand champion market lamb with a market value of $212 to Wagner for $6,700. Hatfield Quality Meats paid $9,000 to Amy Pecora of Harrison City for her 280-pound market swine with a market value of $130.
The reserve grand champions also had a good day at the auction.
Wagner and Saubel’s Market paid Kaitlyn Frontera of Waterford $11,000 for her reserve grand champion junior beef steer with a market value of $1,512. Renee Svonavec of Rockwood sold her reserve grand champion market lamb with a market value of $211.50 to Fulton Bank, Bell & Evans, Hess Barbecue and Snyder concessions for $5,500.
Callie Taylor of Timblin sold her reserve grand champion market goat with a market value of $219 for $4,000 to Wagner. Trent Stadtmiller of Dayton sold his reserve grand champion market swine with a market value of $114 to Wagner for $5,000.
Jacob Haschalk of Edinboro sold his reserve champion meat pen of Californian rabbits to Bell & Evans for $3,500.
“This sale, like this Farm Show’s theme, shows diversity,” said state Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding. “Rabbits are a great addition to the sale.”
Two Cumberland County teens, Makayla Mainhart of Newville and McKenzie Myers of Carlisle, sold market goats at the sale. Both plan to use their money for more show animals.