SALINAS VALLEY — All 613 animals sold at Salinas Valley Fair’s first-ever online Junior Livestock Auction last Saturday through Overland Stockyard, with final sales totaling $725,000.
“I am so proud of the effort our community made in supporting 4-H and FFA members from Monterey County, San Benito County, Santa Cruz County and San Luis Obispo County,” said TJ Plew, CEO for Salinas Valley Fair. “It shows how much we care for not just our local kids, but that we care about all kids participating in 4-H and FFA programs.”
The traditional SVF auction, which would have been held in mid-May at the fairgrounds in King City, was rescheduled to June 20 due to Covid-19 and reconfigured as an online auction, where an estimated 600 buyers signed up.
“I’m just glad the kids are making some money, they’re recouping some of their costs,” said Cody Bassetti, a board member with the 2020 Salinas Valley Fair Board.
Multiple concerns were put together with rescheduling the auction, including timing so the youth exhibitors wouldn’t face a massive loss on raising their animals, to reducing their upkeep costs by harvesting the animals in early May.
“Given these times right now and the economy, we’re fortunate to be able to do something for the kids to help them out,” said fellow board member John Orradre. “That’s what we’re here for.”
“We’re selling an animal about one a minute, and we’ve got a few people here local that are making live bids,” Bassetti explained about the process, where a majority of buyers bid online but staff was on hand to assist those with in-person bids.
Bassetti said that at any given time when he checked the logged in buyers, he saw an estimated 400 watching at once.
“That’s a potential of having 400 people bidding,” Bassetti said.
He credited Overland with “doing a smash job” in making sure the auction ran without bumps.
“It’s a lot different than what we’re used to seeing,” Orradre said. “We miss the atmosphere that we had and the excitement, having the kid come in the ring and live auction with a lot of people around and bidding.”
Orradre attributed the advancement of online technology with being able to run the auction, during which pictures of the youth and their animal were displayed as the buyers bid, even if they were hundreds of miles away.
“Our livestock team here is amazing,” Orradre said. “They went out and they did a great job of getting all the buyer numbers out there and the passwords put out.”
The first auctioneer in the morning was Rodney Bianchi, who has been an auctioneer for area fairs for years. His presence helped to start this year’s auction out with a familiar face and voice, Orradre said. From there, auctioneers from Overland conducted the rest of the sales.
The 613 animals represented about two-thirds of the nearly 1,000 animals that were on track for exhibition for the original auction, as youth were encouraged to sell to private buyers if they had the opportunity.
In addition to the auction amounts, a Junior Livestock Auction Cooperative Fund was set up to be split between the exhibitors to offset the potential of low bids and help youth further recoup their expenditures on raising this year’s animals. Plew announced on June 23 the fund had reached $115,000.
Donations are being accepted for the fund through June 27, which can be made online at SalinasValleyFair.com/JLA or by calling the fair office at 831-385-3243.
This year’s shift in plans meant a change in how the auction was conducted, and staff having to learn a whole new way to conduct the event. Bassetti entertained the idea of using the best of both in the future.
“I’d like to see it continued into next year if we’re able to have a fair and a live show, we can also have the internet bidding go on at the same time,” Bassetti said, “so we can draw a bigger crowd and get more people to get bids.”