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Longtime fair tradition: Junior livestock auction pays off for youngsters

  • David Lewers points out bidders to the auctioneer during the market lamb auction at the Sonoma County Fair on Saturday, July 26, 2014.

Alister and Owen Clark climbed into the animal pen to pose for pictures with their lambs, Happy and Blackie. It would be the last time the Santa Rosa brothers, 9 and 13, respectively, would get to spend time with their young bucks after the animals were sold Saturday on the auction block at the Sonoma County Fair.

The fair’s junior livestock auction kicked off at 9 a.m., starting with the lamb bids. Goats and rabbits were auctioned in the afternoon.

Blackie was the first in the auction ring after judges named the lamb the fair’s supreme champion. And the 147-pounder, also the 4-H grand champion, was no cheap sheep.

Sonoma County Fair Junior Livestock Auction

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The lamb that Owen Clark, a member of the Green Valley 4-H, fed, exercised and cared for three to four hours a day for months was quickly snatched up at $25 a pound by Nick Nicora with Ovations, the food-service company whose clients include the county fair.

“It’s been a long year,” Owen Clark said after he returned the animal to its pen, where it was to await for the inevitable — the butcher block.

Blackie was one of two $25-per-pound lambs, the highest price paid Saturday. Jennifer Gamba of Live Oak 4-H sold her 107-pound lamb to Sunrise Farms.

Clark said he’s been showing livestock at fairs for four years now and has learned not to get attached to the animals.

“The first year I cried because I was way too attached to them,” he said.

His younger brother wasn’t as prepared to let go of Happy.

“I was really sad because he’s leaving. He feels like a part of my life,” said Alister Clark, a special junior champion who is participating in the auction for the first time.


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