Spider Monkey, the Grand Champion in the 2012 junior steer competition, looks at audience during bidding on the last day of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. AP photo.
Scott Nishimura firstname.lastname@example.org
Nonprofits raising money to buy the nearly 300 champion market steers, pigs, goats and lambs from the youth who exhibit them at the Fort Worth Stock Show say they’re optimistic that this year’s auction Feb. 8 will rake in big money again. “It looks very strong,” Scott Prince, chairman of the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate, the largest of several groups that raise money for the Junior Sale of Champions, said in an interview Jan. 28. “We’ve got a lot of commitments; we have more at this time than we’ve had in the past years.” In last year’s auction, bidders spent $3.1 million on 283 steers, barrows, lambs and goats. The Happy Davis Foundation spent $205,000 to buy the grand champion steer, a 1,329-pound European crossbred. The bidding pushes the auction prices far above the animals’ per-pound market value, with the money going to the young exhibitors who raised and showed the animals. The 34-year-old Syndicate accounted for $2.86 million of last year’s bidding. It and other groups – Ladies on the Lamb, the U Ol’ Goat Committee, Fort Worth Businessmen, The Tallest Hog at the Trough, The Shortest Goat at the Bar, and the new Fort Worth Businesswomen, which has changed its name to Women Steering Business – accounted for all of last year’s bids. Prince made no promises for this year’s Syndicate, except to say the organization, which has raised a total $38.5 million for the auction since the Syndicate formed in 1980, expects that total to surpass $40 million this year. Last year, the group had more than 400 sponsors.
“We have a tremendous amount of loyal supporters from years past,” said Prince, CEO of an energy logistics company based in Oklahoma City. Women Steering Business, which raised $45,000 for last year’s auction, has raised $137,000 so far this year through 135 donors, said Becky Renfro Borbolla, chief of the group and an executive of Renfro Foods. Several corporate sponsors have signed on for this year’s auction, Borbolla said, including Bank of Texas, Legacy Bank, Bennett Benner Partners, Atmos Energy, and FTS International, along with developer and investor Ed Bass. “They came to us and said we really like what this group is doing,” said Borbolla, who joined with several businesswomen to form the group as a networking opportunity and a way to encourage more girls to show livestock. Mayor Betsy Price is a member. With the money it already has, the group expects to be able to support as many as a dozen girls in this year’s auction, Borbolla said. Michele Hahnfeld, president of Ladies on the Lamb, said her group is “getting closer” to its goal of $70,000 to spend at this year’s auction. The sale will include nine lambs. The group has raised about $60,000 so far, Hahnfeld said.
“We have not had anybody turn us down that gave to us in the past,” Hahnfeld said. “They know the money goes to a good cause.” Gary Ray, chief of the Tallest Hog at the Trough, said his group “can always use pig buyers.” The group raised $112,000 last year that went for 12 barrows (castrated male pigs) in the sale. Last year’s grand champion sold for $60,000. The group’s goal this year is to push prices up on the eight class champions to an average of $10,000, up from $7,000, Ray said. “Right now, I can put you in a good used pig for about $8,000,” said Ray, an insurance company owner. To entice buyers, Ray’s group is holding its sixth annual pig and goat roast, March 8 at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House downtown. All buyers get to attend. Ray has also been encouraging membership in the exclusive Champion’s Grand Slam Club, for buyers of all four grand champions – in one year or a lifetime. Only Aledo businessman Larry White Jr., who heads the Fort Worth Businessmen and the U Ol’ Goat Committee, is a grand slam member. White said his two groups, which raised $290,000 together last year, are “in good shape” on meeting or beating last year’s number. “I think it’s going to be close,” he said. His group has only about 30 members “and it depends, some of them, on how their business was last year.”