MONROE — Aleigh Davis knelt beside her 1,154-pound black steer and sprayed a can of tail adhesive on the animal’s legs. She fluffed the hair with a brush, giving the steer’s legs a fuller appearance.
“It’s like hairspray,” the 19-year-old said.
It was about an hour before the start of the Evergreen Youth Livestock Show on Saturday, where 88 youth prepared to auction off their animals to the highest bidders. The annual event at the Evergreen State Fair is open to youth ages 8 to 21.
For participants, the animals are a months-long investment of up to several thousand dollars. Many hoped to recoup costs with auction proceeds, and if they were lucky, make a profit.
Exhibitors primped their goats, lamb, pigs, steers and chickens to prepare them for the big stage on Saturday.
“I kind of went all out with this one,” Davis said of her Maine-Anjou steer, Maverick. “I was trying to win some belt buckles.”
She sported a Grand Champion belt buckle, which she and Maverick were awarded on Thursday.
The 2021 Mount Vernon High School graduate recounted the 327 days she had cared for Maverick: twice daily feedings and once-a-week water trough cleanings.
The Evergreen Youth Livestock Show’s mission is to teach youth about animal care along with financial management and record keeping. And it requires entrepreneurial skills: youth have to go out and solicit buyers.
“It’s all about getting kids to reach out,” Davis said.
Buyer Byron Hill, owner of Del Fox Meats, made the rounds on Saturday before the auction. He chatted with exhibitors and collected fliers, adding new ones to his stack. He said eight kids had already come to the Stanwood-area meat shop to drop off fliers beforehand.
Hill said he looks for kids who are knowledgeable about their animals and show dedication.
“We buy to support the kids to help them break even so they can do it again next year,” he said.
Two other buyers, Siri and Troy Tobey, planned to buy a beef and lamb at the auction. The meat would fill their freezer and their four kids’ freezers, the Lake Stevens-area residents said. Mostly, they wanted to support the kids.
“It teaches them so much,” Siri Tobey said. “We know the animals are so well taken care of.”
As the auction neared, kids wrangled their animals to a staging area. They made last-minute pitches to buyers in the crowd.
The first animal up for bid was Davis’ grand champion steer, Maverick. Prices started at $1.45 a pound, the market price. Buyers quickly bid up the price as the auctioneer spoke at rapid-fire speed, with a winning bid of $5.25 a pound.
The total price was $6,059 for the 1,154-pound steer, and Davis stood to make a profit of about $1,000. She planned to put the money into a college fund to study agriculture.
Some kids became emotional as they watched their animals bid on. In a short time, the animals would be turned into meat.
Davis said saying goodbye to her animals is the toughest part. This year is particularly bittersweet: It will be her last time in the youth show.
“I’ve completed all my goals,” she said.
Goats were up next, then lambs, with most animals selling for well above market price. There is a tax write-off for buyers who pay above market.
As she waited to exhibit her pig, Raya Jakobsen had a big smile on her face. The 16-year-old from Stanwood had just won the Glen Allen Memorial Award, which honors a Snohomish County farmer and auctioneer.
Her 262-pound pig, Jupiter, was this year’s reserve champion swine, the runner-up. Jakobsen said she likes to share her passion for farming.
“I just love being close to agriculture and reaching different people,” she said.
Younger kids also entered animals in the show.
Tucker Johnson, 8, of Arlington, planned to auction off three chickens, which took just six weeks to raise. He made sure they got lots of food and water and exercise in the yard.
“The most important thing I’ve learned is you keep getting better at it,” he said.
The fair is open Monday and Tuesday and closed Wednesday. It will reopen Thursday through Monday and include more animals events through next weekend. See schedules at evergreenfair.org/162/Daily-Schedules
Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; email@example.com; Twitter: @jacq_allison.
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