Champions are made at the NC State Fair

N.C. State Fair youth livestock scholarship recipients

Following is a guest post from Marisa Linton. Marisa grew up showing and raising livestock, and currently lives on her family’s small farm in Mount Olive. She has shown animals at the N.C. State Fair for 14 years and is a past youth livestock scholarship recipient. She is an N.C. State University graduate, agricultural photographer and blogger.

With a point, a glance and a handshake, a dream comes true. After hours of hard work and months of preparation, it all becomes worth it when the judge points to you. The noise of the crowds and the sights of the fair fades away. Everyone cheers and the moment sinks in. A champion has been chosen.

Only a handful of livestock exhibitors ever get to experience what it is like to win grand champion, and for those who do, it is a moment to remember.

Every year prize-winning market goats, lambs, steers, turkeys and hogs enter the Sale of Champions show ring for a big payoff. With bright lights shining the auctioneer chants his tune as the champions parade through.

Auctioneer EB Harris starts the bid. The numbers begin to climb as those in the audience vie for the winning bid. Back and forth it goes until Harris calls “SOLD!” With that, congratulations are given and photos taken. A champion has been sold.

Youth showing the animal receive 60 percent of the sale proceeds, but 40 percent goes into a scholarship fund for youth across the state and to support educational livestock efforts and events that take place throughout the year in 4-H and FFA. This year, the sale brought in a record $182,500 thanks to generous supporters.

The money raised goes far beyond the day of the sale, and it reaches much farther than the champions that enter the ring. That money helps any child who enters a skillathon or judging contest, attends a livestock clinic, or accepts a scholarship from the N.C. State Fair Youth Scholarship Program. The Sale of Champions and those who support it impact hundreds of lives. In fact, those who support youth livestock programs financially, or with their time, are changing lives.

There’s a quote that says “we can’t always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” The North Carolina livestock program is building responsible youth for the future. And, it isn’t just a future in agriculture or livestock. Many of these youth become nurses, teachers, business leaders, politicians and lawyers, too. They take the lessons they’ve learned from showing livestock, like hard work, dedication and perseverance, and incorporate it into their daily lives and in their careers.

Looking out in the ring, there was a lot of good livestock. There were a handful of champion animals, but there were many more champion kids. Livestock creates great kids-champion kids in the ring, outside of the ring, and for the future.

You may have walked past the champion animals on display in the Exposition Center while at the fair. You may have been surprised at the amount they sold for. Maybe you were just noticed how fluffy the cows were. Know, though that behind that animal, price tag and fluff is a young person who worked really hard and a support system that goes beyond their family. It includes mentors, extension agents and buyers.

Champions and Buyers

  • Grand Champion Junior Market Steer: Jacob Burleson, Weaverville
    Buyers: N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance and Powers Great American Midways–$25,000
  • Reserve Champion Junior Market Steer: Kadence Overby, Selma
    Buyer: N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance–$16,000
  • Grand Champion Got to Be NC Steer: Nora Cave, Elkin
    Buyers: N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance, Powers Great American Midways, Harward Brothers Livestock Market, Carolina Stockyards, and Thompson Cattle Co–$18,000
  • Grand Champion Junior Market Lamb/ Grand Champion Got to Be NC Lamb: Audrey Glass, Belhaven
    Buyer: Farm Credit Association–$16,500
  • Reserve Champion Junior Market Lamb: Hunter McMillen, Grandy
    Buyer: Tractor Supply Co.–$8,000
  • Grand Champion Junior Meat Goat/Grand Champion Got to Be NC Goat: Caleb Henson, Canton
    Buyers: Tractor Supply Co. and Iron Horse Auction Co.–$17,500
  • Reserve Champion Junior Meat Goat: Savannah Weeks, Camden
    Buyer: N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance–$9,500
  • Grand Champion Market Barrow: Griffin Huneycutt, Albemarle
    Buyers: N.C. Pork Council, Smithfield Farmland, Prestage Farms, Hog Slat, Inc., Duplin Marketing, and Mt. Olive Livestock–$19,500
  • Grand Champion Got to Be NC Barrow: Connor Kennedy, Pink Hill
    Buyers: N.C. Pork Council, Smithfield Farmland, Prestage Farms, Hog Slat, Inc., Duplin Marketing, and Mt. Olive Livestock–$25,500
  • Reserve Champion Market Barrow: Hunter McMillen, Grandy
    Buyer: Harris Teeter–$12,000
  • Grand Champion Market Turkey: Kaylie Pender, Wake Forest
    Buyer: N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance–$10,000
  • Reserve Champion Market Turkey: Zya Pegg, Swananoa
    Buyer: Talley Farms–$5,000

About Funhouse

On the blog I go by Fun House (AKA Heather Overton). At the Fair you'll find me checking out the blue ribbon winners or hanging out in Heritage Circle. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite part of the Fair, but I can tell you one thing I hate - leaving it on the last day. I can't wait for opening day!

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