Although the grand and reserve grand champion steers didn’t reap record auction prices and anxiety lingered over many potential bidders’ eroded stock values and oil and gas incomes, big spenders were plentiful at Saturday’s Junior Sale of Champions on the 2016 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo’s 23rd and final day.
“It’s awesome!” declared Jagger Horn, 14, of Anson, after his Junior Grand Champion Steer, a 1,362-pound Maine-Anjou/Angus crossbred named Big Boy, drew the $210,000 winning bid from Hillwood Properties, with bidding by company Chairman H. Ross Perot Jr. and President Mike Berry.
Auction veterans later said that Fort Worth Businesswomen, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, H.E. Butt Grocery/Central Market and some unknown other auction goers had been in the bidding competition.
Perot and Berry were asked if they had planned to go for the steer prior to the auction, and Perot said: “We never do. . . . We come to bid up prices . . . for the community.”
This time the Hillwood duo’s bidding-up won the beefy steer, but Big Boy and reserve grand champ steer Goosebumps, which sold for $170,000, won’t be heading to anyone’s dinner table. Upholding a tradition, the winning buyers will send the steers to the Fort Worth Zoo, and next summer the bovines “get retired” to pastures.
The $210,000 price tied the third highest paid for a Junior Grand Champion at the 120-year-old Stock Show, according to show records. In 2010, Larry White Jr. Investments set a then-record $210,000 auction bid. The current record remains $240,000 paid last year by RXpress Compounding Pharmacy. Champion Ranch of Centerville paid the second-highest price of $230,000, at the 2012 auction.
Whether there was an economic impact on the bidding or not remains uncertain, it’s hard to belittle $210,000 and $170,000 prices for the top two $1,800-$1,900 meat-market valued steers. Brandon and Brek Horn and Sherri and Brian Martin – parents of the steer-winning exhibitors – say they couldn’t be happier or more grateful.
“It was amazing anytime you can sell an animal for that kind of money; that was amazing generosity,” said Jagger’s dad Brandon Horn, who runs a cow-calf ranching operation, including raising, selling and buying show calves.
Hereford 7th grader and Oldham County 4-H member Saige< cq > Martin, 12, took the $170,000 winning bid for her 1,357-pound Goosebumps, and that sum is the second highest paid for a junior reserve grand champ steer at the Stock Show. “We raised this one,” said mom Sherri Martin.
“We are so overwhelmed by the generosity of the Fort Worth Stock Show and the Sale of Champions,” said dad Brian Martin, who has a cow-calf ranching and show-calf business at Hereford. “As for the sale, hard work really pays off.”
Women’s Steering Business, now with 150 members – 75 bidding in the auction — delivered the $170,000 bid, up from the $150,000 that the Stock Show bid-boosting organization paid for last year’s reserve grand. The record still stands at $200,000, bid by Coors Distributing Co. of Fort Worth in 2010.
Meanwhile, after the top steers sold, remaining auction bidders didn’t appear to slack off much, and Del Frisco’s bought three steers.
And – yes, no surprise here — the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate, with about 140 members and many more donor-buyers, posted its 36th annual domination of the bidding on the Texas FFA and 4-H junior exhibitors’ steers, barrow hogs, wether lambs and wether goats. Among Syndicate donors are some families of past winning exhibitors, who took home sizable cash from Stock Show junior auctions.
More than 400 Syndicate members, donors, sponsors, other supporters and well-wishers sat down to a tenderloin steak, quail, sausage, bacon, tamale, fruit, biscuit and egg breakfast — with coffee, juice, bloody-Mary and other drink choices – early Saturday morning ahead of the 9 a.m. auction in West Arena.
This year those young livestock show participants, ages 9-19, came from 238 of the 254 Texas counties, Junior Sale of Champions auctioneer Doak Lambert told a standing-room only auction crowd in 642-seat West Arena.
“We have every animal sold (bought),” said Syndicate media contact Eddie Arguijo ahead of the sale. He’s a MillerCoors employee.
Arguijo meant a Syndicate donor, sponsor or member or teams of them would bid up the price on every auction animal, and if other bidders topped the Syndicate-targeted bidding range, so much the better to meet the group’s goals to reward the exhibitors.
Hillwood President Berry has been a longtime Syndicate member, and Perot and Hillwood have been longtime Stock Show and Syndicate supporters.
But a Syndicate leader said the grand champ steer-winning $210,000 bid was to Hillwood’s credit, not the Syndicate’s. “Our job is to bring them (bidders) here,” the Syndicate man said. The Syndicate’s total commitments to this year’s auction has not been released, but a rough estimate is more than $3 million of the $3.4 million-plus total paid for all the auction animals.
Another longtime Syndicate and auction supporter said: “Whoever was bidding against Ross Perot Jr. didn’t scare him. He doesn’t come in second unless he wants to.”
Still, mounting worries and shrinking incomes from sliding oil, gas, stock and export markets likely kept some traditional bidders away and dampened the spending ardor of others, three Stock Show veterans said.
Oil and gas company executives were at arena-side bidding, but they didn’t contend prominently in the bidding on the top winning steers.
Some Stock Show supporters, however, found little evidence of the economy’s tribulations in the auction results. That’s because, former Syndicate chairman and 29-year Stock Show auction participant Gary Ray said, “the Fort Worth economy has become so diversified. . . . Banking, construction, development and other sectors are still strong. . . . We’re not dependent on one industry.”
“I did not think oil prices being down hurt us today,” said Becky Renfro Borbolla, Women’s Steering Business founder/leader. She’s vice president of Fort Worth-based Renfro Foods.
The annual auction generated, Stock Show officials reported, more than $3.4 million paid to the young exhibitors for 292 steers, barrow hogs, wether lambs and wether goats – all grown for meat. That spending ranks second only to last year’s record just over $3.7 million for 286 animals, according to show records.
Regardless of effects this year, if any, a significant impact will be felt in future Stock Show auctions if oil, gas and stock prices languish for the long term, rippling through the rest of the economy, said Ray, president of MODCO Insurance and Risk Management Agency, and others.
Ray monitors the oil and gas sectors quite closely. He focuses on providing and servicing insurance for risk-management in the energy industries. He also co-founded and leads the Tallest Hog at the Trough, a 9-year-old venture on a mission to corral/enlist bidders for the winning barrow hogs sold at the auction. His and fellow Tallest Hog supporters, including meat-industry veteran Billy Rosenthal, had major impact this year, again.
Bragging rights extended to the $44,000 paid for the grand champion barrow pork-bound hog, $41,000 for the grand champ meat-bound lamb and $22,000 for the grand champ cabrito-bound goat. The reserve grand champs earned big money, too.
Standard Meat Co. bought the grand champion barrow hog for $44,000, paid to Carsyn Hodde, a Washington County 4-H Club member who raised the crossbred.
Colt Wolf of Whitesboro FFA took home $21,000 for his reserve grand champion barrow, another crossbred. Dr. Bill Bonnell, M.D., was the winning bidder.
The 35-member Ladies on the Lamb continued to dominate the wether lamb buying.
“We had a great day today,” said Rebecca Clegg Emery, Ladies on the Lamb founder, reporting $157,000 record high in total Ladies’ spending on seven of the 10 lambs auctioned. That’s up from $85,000 last year.
The bid-boosting organization paid $41,000 for the grand champ lamb, a crossbred shown by Carlie Shea Witte, an El Paso County 4-H member.
Abbey Currie of Cleveland FFA got $21,000 for her reserve grand champ lamb, a crossbred, also from the Ladies on the Lamb.
Mason FFA member Stran< cq > Stultz sold his grand champion wether goat for $22,000 to 4K Land and Cattle Co. and Luther King Capital Management.
Weatherford FFA member Peyton Thomas sold his reserve grand champ wether goat for $21,000 to D&M Leasing.
In a released statement, Stock Show President and General Manager Brad Barnes praised “the great work that our buying groups and area leaders put into supporting our junior exhibitors is simply amazing. Our youth exhibitors are rewarded for their hard work because of a community of individuals and organizations that care about the future of the livestock industry in Texas.”