Jeff Toth’s 4-H project easily weighed 1,000 pounds more than him. After a year of raising his steer, Beane, the duo circled the show arena at the Washington County Fair Market Steer Show Tuesday and placed first in their class.
“I was shocked,” Toth, 19, said. “Especially with a steer, they’re one of the harder projects to take (in 4-H). It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of work and effort.”
On Saturday, Toth, a criminal justice major at California University of Pennsylvania, will return to the show arena to auction off Beane, as well as his market lamb and hog. The market livestock sale begins at 6 p.m. today, auctioning rabbits and goats, and continues at 10 a.m. Saturday with lambs, steers and hogs.
Members of 4-H and the Future Farmers of America, both youth programs aimed at encouraging agricultural education, raised all the livestock available at the auction.
Walt Bumgarner, 59, serves as livestock educator for Penn State Extension. This is his eighth year serving as a 4-H representative at the Washington County Fair.
He estimates more than 700 community members will attend the auction to bid over the next two days.
“Businesses, parents, lawyers, attorneys, doctors, anyone that supports the junior fair,” will be in attendance, Bumgarner said. He added each auction hosts around the same number of bidders, regardless of the animal species.
According to Bumgarner, the auction is vital in educating a generation with less exposure to farm culture.
“I’d say the vast majority of the people attending the fair are probably at least two or three generations (removed) from agriculture,” Bumgarner said. “(The fair) is as close to agriculture as they get.”
Several community members volunteer to serve as auctioneer in shifts.
This year 44 steers, 150 hogs, 102 lambs and 99 goats are available across the auctions, in addition to 21 rabbit pens, containing three rabbits per pen.
According to last year’s pricing, an average steer cost $2.50 per pound.
By this estimate, Toth will collect about $3,000 for his steer Saturday.
Eric Putnak, of Eighty Four, received nearly $4,000 from FTS International, a natural gas company, for his grand champion steer at the fair last year.
“A majority of the money these kids get probably goes into their college educations,” Bumgarner said.
Carly McCoy, 18, is likely among that majority. The recent Trinity High School graduate plans to attend Washington & Jefferson College to study physical therapy in the fall.
McCoy placed fourth in her class with her steer, Dexter.
As a nine-year member of 4-H, McCoy said the experience was probably a factor in her acceptance to W&J.
“I learned a lot (from 4-H),” McCoy said. “And I made a lot of new friends.”