The 2022 Montezuma County Fair capped off the week with the 4-H livestock sale Saturday that showcased farm animals raised by local youths.
About 60 buyers signed up for the auction, up from 50 last year. The sale featured 113 animals ranging from steers and swine to goats, lambs and rabbits. Poultry sales were not allowed because of the risk of avian flu.
The auction sale prices are much higher than market value, and are intended to reward 4-H participants for their hard work.
In 2021 total livestock sales at the auction was $275,000, said sale organizer Kaylin Wilson.
“We could not do this without the generous support from the people and businesses of Montezuma County,” she said.
Agriculture Extension intern Tierney Wilson said participation in 4-H saw 50 new kids sign up this year, with a total of 180 in the program.
“More families moving into the area, and more kids are becoming old enough to participate,” she said. “We have seen growth the last two years.” The 4-H age range is 8 to 18 years.
Camryn Oliver, 14, and her bull Apollo were awarded the Grand Champion for market beef from the judges.
“I feel very proud,” she said. “He is very well built, is gentle and has good genes.”
The club calf breed weighed in at 1,266 pounds, and sold for $7,300 to Big O Tires, of Cortez.
Oliver, of Yellow Jacket, said key to her success was effective feeding, gentling and coat maintenance.
“At first he kicked a bit, but we got him desensitized. In a barn they have to get used to kittens running around their feet, little kids touching their face, and being around people and other animals.”
For a fitter look, she switched to feeding him corn, which filled out his build and increases the marbling of the meat. She spent hours straightening out its curly hair to form a thick, uniform coat the judges prefer.
Oliver plans to split her earnings between buying another steer for next year, getting more livestock supplies and saving for college.
Kayden Spruell, 11, won the Grand Champion ribbon for her pig Houston, who weighed in at 264 pounds. Pigs have great personalities, Spruell said, and love belly rubs.
“We had fun, she loves going for walks,” Spruell said.
At auction her pig was bought by professional Supercross and Motocross racer Eli Tomac of Corez for $4,800. Spruell plans to save the money for college.
Cardon Lanier, age 10, said Maine Anjou Cross named Redneck weighed in at 1,313 pounds and sold for $6,100. This is his third year raising steers.
“The toughest part is getting them halter broke, they don’t want to do it at first. I’ve learned over the years this is a good breed, and it has a good look.”
Jadon Elliott, 18, also raised and sold a steer, and carried around two baby goats, Lelo and Stitch, who were dressed as turkeys because fowl were not allowed.
Elliott said he got a lot out of 4-H, including a strong work ethic that will help in his future plans to join the U.S. Air Force and go to trade school.
“It teaches responsibility. It’s a big job taking care of animals, they become like your children,” Elliott said. If they are not doing well, you learn to double down and work harder until they improve.”
Surrounding the livestock sale were a variety of events, contests, arts and craft displays, and vendors.
There were 200 entries in the horticultural category. The Grand Champion for the fresh flowers was an artichoke flower grown by Ruth Hamshar. The Grand Champion for vegetables was a giant cabbage grown by Reed Brugger.
At the chili contest, 40 people tested out 10 different types of salsa and chili, then voted for their favorites.
Kyle Jim and Philvena Nez sampled the salsas.
“It is good variety, the event was well organized,” Nez said. “We both like the spicy.”
Christie Holeman of Farmington won first place for the vegetable salsa category, and Stephanie Heel, of Montezuma County took second. Ashley Lancaster won first place for the green and red chili and the fruit salsa.
The two traveled from Shiprock to attend the balloon rally in Cortez, and decided to check out the fair as well.
“All is good, we’re having a good time,” Jim said.