MANSFIELD, OH – Hard work pays, literally.
That's the lesson 4-H and FFA participants say they learn at the Richland County Fair Jr. Fair Livestock Auction, which took place Saturday at the fairgrounds. All their excitement and dedication over the past few months comes down to this return, lamb grand champion Seth Wasilewski said.
Wasilewski, 15, won grand champion with his market lamb — a feat he hadn't accomplished since he took the top price in 2012 — and reserve champion with his beef feeder calf. He also was an exhibitor at the Ohio State Fair, where he placed third overall in the commercial ewe category and won first place in the record book competition.
Elite Excavating purchased his lamb for $1,550 and his calf for $825.
"It's tough. I worked two hours a day with them," Wasilewski said. "But it's worth it. It's fun. You learn responsibility taking care of the animals, and I made a lot of new friends."
During the event, 349 lambs, calves, steers, hogs and goats were auctioned. The money earned was in addition to the market value price.
The Cook family dominated in the dairy feeder calf competition this year. The first five finishers were all from the same farm, with four of them being related and the fifth being a close family friend.
Connor Ladd, a member of the Cook family, took home the grand champion prize in the category. C. Eshelman Concrete purchased the prized dairy feeder for $1,125.
Ladd, 13, said it was the first year he's placed higher than seventh in the species — he won grand champion his first year in 4-H, showing a hog.
"I thought I'd get over $700, but I didn't expect this," Ladd said of his prize.
The day also was a win for Sam Oswalt, who placed sixth with her dairy feeder calf. It's the 18-year-old's last time showing an animal at the fair, and although she didn't take home the top prize, she is taking home money for college, she said.
Her calf sold for $1,650, breaking the previous record of $1,350. It was purchased by Country Roads Veterinary Service, Oswalt's farm's veterinary.
"Our farm vet buys my animal every year," Oswalt said. "It means a lot to me. I'm glad to go out on that note."
Grant Milliron, of Milliron Industries, is one of the notable buyers at the auction every year, although he can't recall just how many years he's been supporting the program.
He said his "soft spot for the youth" compels him to buy a few of every species.
"It becomes a part of your life," Milliron said. "The young people write us letters and tell us where they are and what they learned."