By Mary Spicer
WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP —
First went the goats. Then the lambs. Then the swine. And finally, beef on the hoof took to the ring at Friday night’s 41st annual Crawford County 4-H & FFA Livestock Auction in the Livestock Arena at the Crawford County Fairgrounds. In a sale that began at 5 p.m. and lasted for almost six hours, bidding was lively but records were apparently not destined to be broken.
A total of 10 goats, 19 lambs, 122 swine and 35 beef entries kept the arena packed, but Petey the Scholarship Hog won over countless hearts when he was auctioned off to the highest bidders at 7 p.m. and went on the block again much later that night.
While other animals went on the auction block by the pound, the 220-pound Petey, who was sold to benefit the 4-H & FFA Market Livestock Scholarship Fund, was purchased early in the evening with a total winning bid of $5,000 to a consortium of buyers from throughout the area who then returned him for re-sale at the end of the auction. Proceeds from the second sale of all animals turned back in to the auction committee also benefit the scholarship fund.
The winning bid for this year’s scholarship hog was the second highest ever, according to auctioneer C. Sherman Allen, who shared the gavel with Brianne Charise Lenhart, the reigning Miss Crawford County Fair Queen.
Although Lenhart agreed to carry on the tradition of the fair queen kissing the pig if bids reached $5,100, she wasn’t required to put lips to snout. Petey, however, was prepared. “We washed his nose,” said Toni Merritt, whose family donated Petey to the scholarship cause.
Petey’s first buyers included Golden Hill Farms, Bob Rose and family; Allen, a Crawford County commissioner; Miller’s Auction; Livingston Packing; Nicols & Auction, Bruce and Nathan Nicols; Village Auto, Dustin & Beck Mattocks; Mercer County State Bank, Bruce Stainbrook; Dr. Paul Shok, orthodontist; Range Resources; and Ernst Conservation Seeds.
The names of the second round of buyers and the amount of the winning bid were not immediately available.
The 6-month-old cross-spot Hampshire was donated by the Merritt family of Hocks & Hooves 4-H Club.
For 16-year-old Alex Merritt, a junior at Cambridge Springs Junior-Senior High School with seven years of raising hogs under her belt, giving up market animals during the closing days of the fair always triggers a pause for reflection — and parting with Petey was no exception.
“The first two or three (auctions) are really hard — you’re on the verge of tears,” she recalled, “but as it goes on, it gets easier.” When Alex’s own 250-pound market hog sold for a hefty $3.80 per pound immediately after Petey went on the block, she added, it wasn’t hard at all.
Petey made his appearance in the auction ring accompanied by 4-H’er Matt Harvison of Titusville, who kept him well-fed with apple chunks.
“He’ll do anything for an apple,” said Toni Merritt, Alex’s mother, who described him as “a very pampered runt” who was selected as the 2013 scholarship hog in April and has been “spoiled rotten” ever since.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.