The Perfect Day


Robert PekelMy lovely wife and I kicked off the day at the 4-H chicken auction held at the Benton County fairgrounds. This is an annual event and a fun time we look forward to each year. The 4-H youngsters start with 50 chicks that are a day old in April. When the auction is held in August, the pullets are just beginning to lay eggs. Each youngster brings in his or her three best chickens to be judged by a volunteer from the University of Arkansas Poultry Science Department. This year, the judge was Dr. Susan Watkins. First-, second- and third-place winners are selected, and every child is awarded a ribbon: blue, red or white. KURM, the local radio station, broadcasts this casual event.

 The premium bidders go first. Premium bidders represent local business that offer hundreds of dollars for a chicken that they don’t take home. These good people’s interest is supporting and encouraging the young upcoming farmers.

It’s cute to see each child cling expertly to their chicken as they show them off to the crowd while auctioneer “Jimmy” invites bidders with his “bid calling” chant. The youngsters are not only cute, they are all very polite and healthy from farm life. Premium bidding started between $80 and $100. One chicken brought in $320.

at the fair 

Once the premium bidding is over, the chickens are auctioned off to the buyers who want to take them home. The bid price is for one chicken that represents the three the youngsters entered into the contest, so it is good to remember whatever the bid it will be triple. In the past, I have averaged paying $10 a chicken, not so this year. Chickens were bringing over $20. These are great layers with at least two years of solid laying ahead of them. At today’s egg prices they would pay for themselves in two months, but it was still a little rich for my blood.

Fortunately, some of the youngsters had 47 other chickens they wanted to sell, so I ended up going home with six chickens at $10 apiece.

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