For years, the junior livestock program’s auction has been a staple at the Wood County Fair.
But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has rocked the world this year, the fair committee was forced to get creative to ensure that the auction can still take place.
The changes are happening in more ways than one, the first being that the auction will take place completely online. While to some doing it online is not the most ideal option, Steven Speck, chair of the sale committee at the Wood County Fair, said that they wanted to something for the kids who put in so much effort.
“It is kind of a hybrid of what we normally do. This started early in the year after this virus situation started to balloon and it was questionable whether we were going to be able to do the fair. But we wanted to be able to do something for the junior fair exhibitors that had a market project that had already made the commitment,” Speck said.
The hybrid that Speck mentions, will come via the style of the auction changing as well.
This is where the second change comes into play. This auction will not be what an auction is traditionally thought of to be. There will not be one bidder that wins the auction, instead it will be based on donations.
“The supporters of the junior livestock program, instead of that traditional auction where they would get in and this person would be the highest bid, they’ll go out and they will find the participant that they can click on and make a donation to the exhibitor to whatever amount they want,” he said.
This, according to Speck, will not be that much different than how the auction is normally run.
“Actually, this is not that unusual from what the live sale ends up being. A lot of times the supporters are sitting out there, and the businesses they all know each other, and they all sort of go together at times. Two or three of the buyers or companies will go together on an exhibitor,” he said.
The auction will be held on the site breedersworld.com, a site that has been doing online auctions for 15 years.
Roger Hunker, owner of the site, believes that there are advantages to holding this donation-type auction that aren’t available in a normal competitive auction.
“A big advantage of the add-ons is that we feel that we are going to be able to get to some other bidders that may not necessarily come to the auction. Maybe it is such a thing where they have heard of the auction or the price of the auction and say, ‘well I can’t get that much,’ so they never participate. So this way those folks that may only want to give 50 or 100 dollars to the neighbor boy, they can do that,” Hunker said.
The site will be doing online auctions all over the country for fair season this year, basically from coast to coast. Their first one of the summer came six weeks ago at a fair in Virginia. The site has been doing online auctions for 15 years.
For Speck and the sales committee, this was a big reason why they chose to work with the site for the first time this summer. If this version of the auction does as well for Wood County as it did for the one in Virginia, the question will certainly be asked as to whether they should continue this in the future.
“I’m sure some people will like it because they can sit in their office during the week and go through. Other people probably will say that the actual feeling and experience of a live auction is something important too. So we will just have to see how people act and feel about it after it’s over,” Speck said.
One disadvantage to the auction being online however, could be the fact that it will not be for certain that the grand champions for each species will get sold first, as donators can give to whoever they like at any time. The way that the fair will try to adjust to this is by putting these champions at the top of the page when a donator looks at a page. Speck said that it won’t be too flamboyant, but the site will tell donators that these exhibitors are the grand champions for that species.
The auction will open on Aug. 10 and run through Aug. 15 allowing donators a week to make sure that exhibitors are compensated in a way they think is fair.