Steamboat junior takes home $13,500 for steer at fair’s livestock auction
HAYDEN — Levi Allen’s smile kept growing as an auctioneer announced the options for his steer: starting with $5,000 then growing incrementally. Allen thought things couldn’t possibly get better when he heard $10,000.
“Do we have $13,500?” the auctioneer asked, when a representative from Yampa Valley Land Trust flashed a yellow bid card to the crowd, expressing interest in purchasing the steer, the highest price bid on cattle at Saturday’s Junior Livestock Sale, a longstanding tradition at the annual Routt County Fair.
“I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, just because, in the past, I didn’t sell for as much,” Allen said.
A junior at Steamboat Springs High School, Allen has been competing in 4-H for seven years, and while Saturday’s sale brought him more money than any previous year, Allen has saved up his earnings each year and plans to use them to help him pay for college. Though he does not know where he wants to attend yet, Allen hopes to continue working in and learning about agriculture, hopefully by attending a school in either Texas or Wyoming.
“It couldn’t be any more perfect,” Allen said. “It’s really helping me save for my future.”
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Allen was one of dozens of youths from around the Yampa Valley who competed in Saturday’s auction. Participants show turkeys, cattle, goats, chickens and pigs, and the audience bids sometimes thousands of dollars for the animals. A cut of the money goes back to 4-H, but participants keep most of their funds and are encouraged to save it for college or other future investments.
“Every time I go in that show ring, it’s overwhelming because you see all the people looking at them and looking at you, and you just hope it goes well, because you spent your whole summer preparing for this,” said Makayla Iacovetto, a three-year participant auctioning turkeys. “It felt great.”
Participants begin preparing for the event several months in advance, getting to know their animal and taking care of it. The day of the event, participants groom the animals, a process that can be time-consuming.
“First, we wash the cattle and blow their hair,” Allen said. “Then you position it so it makes them look prettier and use thin glue to set their hair exactly where you want it.”
Dennis Parrott, who purchased a steer on behalf of John Deere, said he did so because it gives him a sense of giving back to the community and helping raise the next generation of ranchers.
“We just do it to help the kids because most of these kids use this money for animals next year, and they learn how to take care of an animal,” Parrott said. “They learn a lot of responsibility.”
Jim De Francia, a member of the Routt County Planning Commission, said he buys a steer each year with his neighbors on the Marabou Ranch.
“We just believe in the 4-H program, and we believe it’s a great program for the young kids of Routt County because it’s wholesome and healthy,” De Francia said. “On top of that, we get really good beef.”
De Francia, a fourth-generation Coloradan, said he grew up around ranching, rodeos and livestock, and he works to preserve those aspects of Routt County.
“I believe very strongly in the preservation of our open spaces and our ranch lands,” De Francia said. “Skiing is terrific, and our communities are all great communities, but at the end of the day, we have a ranching heritage in Routt County, and we need to hang onto it.”
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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