For many of the young exhibitors in the Verde Valley Fair, the annual livestock auction is the highlight of the whole affair.
It is their one big chance to cash in on all of their hard work, in a big way. It is not uncommon for animals to sell for 20 time their market value.
After a year or so spent caring for and feeding their animals, then waiting in nervous anticipation on how they placed in this year's judging, the real payoff for all their hard work took place on Saturday in front of friends, family and a cadre of generous of buyers.
The exhibitors, all members of local FFA programs, 4-H Clubs and other affiliated animal husbandry organizations, waited patiently through the late afternoon and evening to see how they would fair.
For most participants, this year's auction lived up to its promise.
As is the norm, the Grand Champions were auctioned first followed by the Reserve Champions and then the Blue Ribbon winners.
The first animal on the block was the Grand Champion Steer raised and shown by Tyler Rezzonico of Camp Verde. The final bid on his steer was $5.25 per pound (market price $0.85)----times 1300 pounds. That's $6,825.
Next came the Grand Champion swine, lamb, chicken and rabbits. Ironically, they were all raised and shown by members of the Mingus Union FFA program.
Eric Banuelos' swine was sold for $9.00 per pound (market price $0.50). It weighed 275 pounds, but the maximum weight that could be paid for a swine was 260. Eric, nevertheless, received $2,340 for his prizewinner.
Chelsea Little's 160-pound lamb went next for $10.50 a pound (market price $0.45). Then came Dash Cheatham's Grand Champion rabbit and Sean Rauch's Grand Champion Chicken. They were sold by the head.
On and on the bidding went for the rest of the evening, with most of the animals selling for considerably more than the market price.
That's the way it is suppose to go.
Every year a number of businesses and organizations come to the auction and bid generously, not only for their own public recognition, but because they know that the annual Youth Livestock Auction is a great place to recognize some of the Verde Valley's more industrious young people.
Cliff Castle Casino, Verde Valley Ford, Salt River Materials Group (Phoenix Cement), Verde Valley Medical Center and a host of other contributors have returned year after year, generously, to help make the auction the great success it has been for the last 39 years.
The auction is an institution that harks back to a time when civility and respect were the norm.
It is open to any member of an organized youth program that is recognized by the Verde Valley Fair Association, and who is also a resident of the Verde Valley, between the ages of 9 and 19 years old.
The rules are strict as to how the animals are entered in the auction. The rules also recognize the need for participants to follow a code of honesty and sportsmanship.
And the fair organizers also require that the entrants follow through on the obligations of gratitude and common courtesy towards their buyers.
The rules require that a letter of thanks be written to the buyer of the animal. The letter must be approved by the fair association and forwarded before any money is sent to the seller.
The buyers, on the other hand, are free to do pretty much whatever they please with their purchases.
They are free to buy the animal for their own use. They can pack it home with them or they can send it to be processed.
They may also choose to purchase the animal and then resell it at current market price. The buyer is then responsible only for the difference between the bid and the market value of the animal.
And then, if they so choose, they may simply give the animal back to the seller.