It was a record  year for the Jefferson County 4-H Fair livestock auction and a bounty for the House of Hope as almost half of the animals in the auction were donated to the House of Hope food pantry. The animals, their owners and buyers were: (Above, from left) Grand Champion Steer: Buyer Garry Chandler of Chandler Select, Fair Queen Lakyn Wilson, 4-Her Mackenzie Phillips. (Photo by Connor Jacobs)
It was a record year for the Jefferson County 4-H Fair livestock auction and a bounty for the House of Hope as almost half of the animals in the auction were donated to the House of Hope food pantry. The animals, their owners and buyers were: (Above, from left) Grand Champion Steer: Buyer Garry Chandler of Chandler Select, Fair Queen Lakyn Wilson, 4-Her Mackenzie Phillips. (Photo by Connor Jacobs)
The 2019 Jefferson County 4-H Fair Livestock Auction dropped the gavel on 184 animals Friday for a record $241,950 sale as local businesses and individuals dug deeper into their wallets than ever before to support the county’s youth at the culmination of yearlong beef, swine, sheep, goat and specialty 4-H projects.

And then, many of those same businesses and individuals extended that support further into the community than ever before by donating almost half of those animals — up from just 22 percent in 2018 — to benefit food insecure families of Jefferson County through the House of Hope food pantry in Madison.

The doubling of the animals going to House of Hope was part of an overall “50 for 50” goal to recognize and honor Purdue Extension Educator Lonnie Mason in his 50th season as the local farm agent for Jefferson County.

As the auctioneer blitzed through the 184 animals to be sold, the “50 for 50” goal was met by the halfway mark of the auction. But, donations to the food bank never subsided with 91 total animals eventually earmarked for donation or 49 percent of a livestock auction that included 24 beef, 102 swine, 53 sheep and five specialty animals.

“It’s just great. I think we ended up with 91 total animals and last year we got 44,” House of Hope President Anne Andreasen said Monday. “So it’s double the amount we got last year. We are all just in a tremendous state of shock. My guess is that amount of meat will last us until next spring.”

Andreasen said the list House of Hope will receive includes six steers (7,390 pounds on the hoof), 68 hogs (15,634 pounds) and the remainder in sheep (2,110 pounds). Considering that about 40 percent of each animals’ live weight can be butchered into meat — House of Hope will turn it all into ground beef, pork and mutton because that is the least expensive to process and the most usable by its 300 to 400 clients per month — that should produce between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds of food for families in need.

She said the roughly 5-6 tons of meat will fill the agency’s walk-in freezer with more going to an overflow freezer. The meat is then made available to food insecure families and individuals through House of Hope and other food providers like the Southwestern Schools Food Pantry for food insecure students and their families.

Andreasen noted the approximately $20,000 in processing costs will be covered by Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, all at no expense to House of Hope.

The top earners in each of the eight auction categories ranged from the $4,000 paid by Chandler Select for the grand champion beef raised by MacKenzie Phillips to the $1,000 each paid for specialty products like Aden Smith’s rabbit by Morgan and Nay Funeral Centre and Taylor Hardymon’s grand champion poultry by Poor Jack Amusements.

The grand champion meat goat sold by Sydney Hammock went for $3,500 to Chandler Chevrolet and Zimmer Tractor while the grand champion swine sold by Jonathan Stockdale went for $3,100 to Auxier Gas and Farmers Bank of Milton.

In other specialty projects, a pound of cheese from the grand champion dairy goat raised by Maeci Marshall was bought by Jenner & Pattison Law Office and Gateway Investment Services for $1,400 and a gallon of milk from the grand champion dairy cow raised by Dawson Scott was bought by German American Bank for $1,400.

The second highest animal to be auctioned Friday was the reserve grand champion beef sold by Jonathan Anderson for $3,900 to Majesty Express and the reserve grand champion swine raised by Adalyn Leach bought for $2,900 by L&N Machine.

The $241,950 for 184 animals auctioned Friday was well above the $215,175 paid for 196 animals in 2018. In 2016 and 2017, a total of 200 animals were sold each year for $234,875 and the previous record high auction $235,450, respectively.

The breakdown on Friday was 102 hogs sold for $121,900, 53 sheep sold for $56,750, 24 beef sold for $55,000 and the five specialty items for a total of $8,300.