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Sale of champions

Nicholas Bertram, Giant Foods president, left, stands with Michael Butz and his grand champion steer Bentley.

HARRISBURG – Seven grand champion animals sold for nearly 15 times their combined market values Tuesday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Sale of Champions.

Giant Food Stores of Carlisle contributed to those profits by purchasing the Farm Show Grand Champion Steer. The auction, on the fourth day of Pennsylvania’s version of a state fair, culminated a year of hard work for the exhibitors. Although the auction didn’t break any records, the owners said they were thrilled with the results.

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. This year, buyers paid $29,900 for the top seven animals whose market valued totaled $2,056.03

Buyers from meat processing plants, restaurants, grocery stores and various business filled the Small Arena for the Farm Show’s most popular auction. An almost palpable excitement spread through the arena when Farm Show auctioneer Harry Bachman began his melodic chant to sell the grand champions.

“We have new buyers and long-time buyers at this sale,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “That’s wonderful for the kids.”

Amerrah Hennessey, 9, of Vanderbilt led her Grand Champion Market Swine into the show ring. Bidding began at $3,000 and rose quickly, with some bidders nodding subtly and others raising their hands enthusiastically.

Within minutes, Hatfield Quality Meats had the winning bid of $4,400 for the hog with a market value of $105.20. Amerrah beamed.

“This is my first year in 4-H and my first Farm Show,” she said.

Michael Butz of Reinholds then led Bentley, the 2019 Farm Show Junior Beef Steer Grand Champion, into the ring. Butz arrived at the Farm Show at 6 a.m. Tuesday to wash and comb his 1,320-pound crossbred black steer. Giant Foods and Bell & Evans Poultry joined together and spent $18,000 to buy Bentley.

“It’s sad to see Bentley go,” Butz said. “But I’m excited, too. I will be raising another steer.”

Nicholas Bertram, Giant Foods president, gave Bentley an affectionate pat. “Our customers love local meats and local products,” he said. “This Farm Show sale is the future of agriculture.”

Emily Valentine of Clearville, owner of the Grand Champion Market Lamb, was having a busy day. She arrived at the Farm Show from Bedford County, bringing both Rio the lamb and everything she will need for the upcoming semester at Penn State University, where she planned to go directly from the Farm Show to study animal science.

Rio, who had a market value of $258.72, sold for $4,200 to Bedford Ford.

“This is exciting,” Valentine said. “I’m very pleased and will use the money for my education.”

In a change of pace, Chloe Plesic of York Springs brought out the Grand Champion Meat Pen of Rabbits. These white fluffy animals, with a market value of $13.68, were sold to Bell & Evans Poultry for $1,000.

“Rabbits are a part of my life,” Chloe, 14, said while looking at her champion New Zealand rabbits. “I have a business, CP Rabbitry, in which I breed rabbits and sell meat rabbits, show rabbits and pet rabbits. I’ll use my money to go to college and become a history teacher.”

Alexa Miles of McDonald then sold her Grand Champion Market Goat with a market value of $200.03 for $2,700 to New Holland Sales Stable.

The Reserve Grand Champions also fared well at auction.

Marissa Miller of Greenville sold Motley, her 1,360-pound crossbred who won reserve grand champion steer honors, to Giant Foods for $6,500. The Reserve Grand Champion Swine, owned by Autumn Zundel of New Alexandria, was bought by Fulton Bank and Bell & Evans Poultry for $3,100.

Callie Tylor of Timblin sold her Reserve Grand Champion Market Lamb to Hoss’s Steak and Sea House for $3,700.

John Rock Inc. of Coatsville bought both the Reserve Grand Champion Rabbit Meat Pen from Emma Kennerknecht of Saegertown for $300 and the Reserve Grand Champion Market Goat from Elon Horchler of New Wilmington for $2,500.

Before the sale, the Pennsylvania Farm Show Scholarship Foundation gave $3,500 in scholarships to each of 24 FFA and 4-H youths. That group included Margaret Brice of Duncannon and Thomas Gabel of Newport.

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