Meadville Tribune

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August 24, 2013

Cheese yield auction sees record bid

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — At just over $183 per pound, the cheese in the record-setting basket purchased from Blooming Valley 4-H Club member Patrick Carey during the 22nd Annual Crawford County 4-H Cheese Yield Auction isn’t quite the most expensive cheese in the world, but it’s right up there.

If a record-setting price wasn’t enough for dairy fans, the county’s dairy leaders also introduced a whole new event during cheese yield night — the first-ever Crawford County 4-H Dairy Beef Auction.

On the cheese front, Carey led his Supreme Champion Holstein, Plum-Line Aspen Karamel, at an elegant pace around the ring in the Crawford County Fair’s Youth Show Arena as an all-out bidding war raged around them late Thursday night. By the time the sawdust settled, the 9-pound basket had been sold for $1,650 to T.R. Shearer Ag & Landscaping of Carlton.

According to Chris Waddell of the auction committee, the basket set an all-time high for the event. It was, however, not the only basket to cross the four-figure line; in fact, baskets weighing in at 4.0, 5.1, 7.2 and 7.3 pounds each sold for $1,000, $1,025, $1,050 and $1,100, respectively.

Gourmet nibbling, however, is not what this auction is all about. In fact, the cheeses contained in the baskets are traditional varieties routinely found on family cheese trays, which is why it’s called a “cheese yield auction” instead of a “cheese auction.”

Members of 4-H clubs throughout the county maintain records detailing the milk production — yield — of each cow throughout the year. Entrants in the Cheese Yield Auction submit those records, which are used to calculate the number of pounds of cheese that could be produced from each cow’s daily milk production. Once the numbers are in, the required quantity of cheese is purchased and packaged and an assortment of blocks weighing in at the specific cow’s yield is placed in each basket.

On auction night, each 4-H member — 27 participated in this year’s event — carefully groomed their competing cow and led it around the ring accompanied by a third party — the bearer of the cheese basket. Under the direction of auctioneer C. Sherman Allen, the battle began. In the end, 4-H’ers take home both their cows and the money earned after the cost of the cheese is deducted.

 This year’s baskets sold for a total of $21,175 averaging $784.

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