Youth auctions require dedication

By Karissa Condoianis

The 71st Annual Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction kicked off with another record-setting sale of the Grand Champion Market Steer. This year’s prize-winning steer was purchased by Big Tex Champion Club led by an anonymous donor, making auction history with their generous bid of $155,000. The preliminary amount raised for Texas youth in the auction is $1.5 million.

Mikala Grady of Johnson County 4-H, age 17, took home the grand prize for her winning steer, Oscar.
Photo courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

With 357 steers entered into the Youth Market Steer Show this year, earning the Grand Champion title was no easy feat. After hundreds of steers and hours of judging, the final decision was made; Mikala Grady of Johnson County 4-H, age 17, took home the grand prize for her winning steer, Oscar. A tradition beginning in 2017, the Fair introduced “The Champ,” a steer-shaped monument commemorating the Grand Champion Market Steer of the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction. This year, “The Champ” has been painted to resemble the likeness of Oscar and will be displayed in the front of the Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center throughout the State Fair.

Zane Potter of Harris County 4-H sold his Reserve Grand Champion Market Steer to the State Fair of Texas Midway Concessionaires and Ride Operators for $36,000. The Grand Champion Market Barrow, owned by Kaden Mason of Montgomery County FFA, sold to the Big Tex Golf Classic for $25,000. Frank Deel purchased the Grand Champion Market Lamb for $25,000 from Madellyn Adams of Brown County 4-H. The Grand Champion Market Goat, owned by Cydnee Hanslik of Jim Ned FFA, went for $20,000 to Atmos Energy. Ella Porter of Montgomery County 4-H sold her Grand Champion Market Broiler to MEI and Texas Air Systems for $10,500.

An annual tradition since 2015, full-time employees of the State Fair of Texas pitch in to purchase an animal in the auction. Continuing that tradition for the fourth year in a row, the State Fair team broke their record with their bid on both a Reserve Champion Market Steer owned by Berkley Bird of Lubbock County 4-H for $7,700, and a Reserve Champion Market Barrow owned by Ollen Pearson of Hockley County 4-H for $6,000. Because the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and Scholarship Program truly embodies the State Fair’s mission of promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement, the team feels very passionately about contributing to this cause.

Supported by community leaders and local businesses, the annual Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction is a representation of the extreme dedication put forth by the exhibitors participating, along with the planning and efforts of the passionate individuals who organize the event. Considered the heart and soul of the livestock department, the Youth Livestock Auction brings families and friends together for an occasion that benefits the community in addition to providing fairgoers with some good old fashioned fun. Approximately 3,500 entries from around the state competed for one of the coveted 392 spots in the auction this year. The students who earn a spot in the Auction get to sell their animals to the highest bidder. Students then receive a previously determined maximum payment for their animal, with all excess proceeds donated to the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and Scholarship Program. The Program benefits students who have competed in youth livestock events at the State Fair, as well as students attending high schools in the Fair Park area. Through the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and Scholarship Program, the State Fair has awarded more than $27 million in auction awards and scholarships. The State Fair congratulates all the students who participate in its youth livestock competitive events and is happy to support them in their pursuit of higher education through the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and Scholarship Program. 

The State Fair of Texas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not receive any government funding or support. Its nonprofit purpose is funded through the proceeds from the annual State Fair of Texas event. The net proceeds from the Fair are used to help preserve and improve Fair Park; underwrite museums, community initiatives, and scholarship programs to support students throughout the Lone Star State pursuing higher education; and help improve State Fair operations — to help put on the next great State Fair of Texas. 

Help support the Fair’s mission of celebrating all things Texan by promoting agriculture, education and community involvement through quality entertainment in a family-friendly environment by attending this year’s exposition.