Organizers want to make Junior Market Show’s explosive growth even bigger

More buyers sought for Sale of Champions

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Feb. 18, 2007 - All you need to know about how big the Hopkins County Junior Market Livestock Show and Sale has gotten is this: At last year’s Sale of Champions, Sulphur Springs FFA member Chea Townsend got $2,400 from MKR Holdings for a goat.

File Photo

More than 250 budding future farmers of Hopkins County will show off their hard work starting Thursday when the Hopkins County Junior Market and Sale gets under way at the Civic Center.

A goat!

There was a time not so long ago when the junior livestock show didn’t generate all that much interest, but oh, how times have changed.

The annual show, which gets under way Thursday and runs through Saturday, is the culmination of weeks and months of work by teens and tweens on their livestock projects, as well as a group of people who have shown almost rabid-like devotion to helping build the exhibition into a stunning success.

And why wouldn’t they all want to take part? After all, not many people get to be a part of a deal involving close to a quarter of a million dollars in cash.

Don’t be surprised if that’s how much is generated by this year’s Sale of Champions, when the show’s top projects are auctioned off to the highest bidders. Last year the Sale of Champions brought in more than $201,000 from 135 sale lots, up $50,000 from the then-record $151,890 on 120 sale lots in 2005.

The junior market show, organized by members of the North East Texas Livestock Association, has seen explosive growth in recent years in terms of both the number of participants as well as the amount of money area individuals and businesses put up for the Sale of Champions.

Less than 10 years ago, market show organizers would have been ecstatic to have 100 entries. The 1999 show, for example, brought in $57,742 for the top 71 animals in four categories, less than the junior shows in neighboring Franklin and Rains counties. The previous four years, the show averaged 60 sale lots and just over $56,000 each year.

But then, the support started to take off. The year 2000 saw 78 sale lots and  $82,459. Every year since, the number of animals sold has grown. Two years ago, 192 participants validated 253 animals. This year, more than 254 youths have signed up 346 animals.

And with the exception of 2003, the amount of money generated has risen each year, as well.

And it’s not just one or two sponsors who make it all happen. More than 87 businesses and individuals were either project buyers or contributed added money to a buyers’ pool to help in the Sale of Champions. Anyone who wants to participate as a buyer or a contributor to the sale can contact any NETLA member, including Larry Spradlin (903-885-3443), Eddie Lampp (903-885-6323), Frank Long (903-885-7800), Dannie Johnson (903-885-2158), Dan Brown (903-885-8306) or Brad Johnson (903-885-3143).

The Sale of Champions. culminating event of the annual show, of course, when the buyers are treated to a stew and chili supper from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. every year on the Saturday of the show, then the bidding begins.

Last year’s sale brought in an average of $1,493 per sale lot, but the numbers, obviously, can get pretty high. In addition to Shea Thompson’s grand champion goat last year, Kayla Keahey with Sulphur Bluff FFA received $6,075 for her grand champion steer from Sulphur Springs Ford, while Sulphur Bluff FFA’s Jennifer McDonald showed the grand champion lamb, bought by Brookshires for $1,900.

A lamb!

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