BROOKSVILLE — Heading into this week's auctions of hogs and steers at the Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show, adult advisers feared local youngsters might become the latest victims of a soured economy.
Turns out, there were plenty of buyers on hand — and they brought their checkbooks — to purchase livestock raised by youths ages 8 to 18.
"We're very happy in the barn this year," said Nancy Moores, the Hernando County Extension 4-H Club agent who is a hands-on stalwart of the fair's livestock committee.
Hogs, numbering 60, sold Tuesday night at an average of $2.14 a pound. Open market price is currently 38 cents.
Said Adam Cannon, a local businessman and member of the Hernando Cattlemen's Association who waved top bids to buy eight hogs, "It seemed to be the goal of bidders not to go under $2 a pound."
When market price last year registered at 36 cents a pound, the fair's hog auction turned in a $2.42 per pound average.
Farm Credit of Central Florida paid $3.25 a pound for this year's champion hog, a 275-pounder raised by Caitlin Flood of the Jolly Ranchers 4-H Club.
Spring Lake Fruit Co. bought the 300-pound reserve champion nurtured to maturity by Delaney Ahrens, member of the Future Cattlemen's 4-H Club.
But both sales were eclipsed by the $5 a pound paid by Chandelle Veterinary Associates, Dr. Doug Davenport, Brooksville, for the 225-pound porker entered by Brianna Stringer of the Jolly Ranchers club. Her hog finished third in the lightweight class.
The 29 steers auctioned Thursday evening averaged $2.06 per pound while market price stands at 80 cents. When the cyclical market last year topped at $1.25 per pound, the fair offering averaged $2.39 per pound.
Goodwin Brothers Construction Co. of Brooksville paid $3 a pound for this fair's champ, a 1,320-pound beef owned by Katie Ward, her project with the Ropers and Wranglers 4-H Club.
Goodwin and Ward should be fast friends. She marched to the grand championship last year and Goodwin bought that winner for $2.80 a pound.
Goodwin bought five more steers, then dug deeper. He contributed to the young stockmen $50 for every steer raised and $25 for every hog. It's the third year the firm has so supported their efforts.
Joseph and Kimberly Lee of Brooksville, first-time buyers, bid a winning $2.60 a pound for the reserve grand champion steer at 1,265 pounds, entered as a chapter project by Hernando Central High School FFA.
The fair continues from 1 to 8 p.m. today and Sunday. Today features a tractor pull at 4 p.m.
Appropriate to the season, Sunday's new attraction will be "Hattitude," an Easter bonnet parade with prizes to be awarded. A truck pull is scheduled at 2 p.m.
Both days will continue demonstrations of quilting, rug hooking, cane weaving and sewing, clown shows and Cow Town, at which kids can milk a cow and churn the proceeds into butter or ice cream.
The events are included in the price of gate admission, which is $7 for adults, $4 for youths ages 4 to 12, and free for children 3 and under.
Beth Gray can be reached at [email protected]