Pilot Staff Writer

A few Curry County 4-H'ers are living high on the hog - and steer, and lamb - after Saturday's Junior Livestock Auction at the Curry County Fair.

Alycia Jacobson's grand champion pig, Oreo, sold for $1,579.50 to Crescent City accountant Kevin Hartwick.

Overall, the auction brought in $28,164.75.

Jacobson, 12, said she didn't expect to raise the grand champion pig, particularly because this was the first year she had one.

Of course, Jacobson spent money - $263.70 - and time buying, feeding and caring for Oreo.

For 4-H'ers, that process is the point.

Record keeping, animal care and marketing are just a few skills they learn preparing for the fair.

Michelle Carrillo, whose grand champion, 119-pound lamb Bad Boy sold for $6 per pound, said her years in the auction have taught her the art of sales.

Carrillo, 17, said she seriously solicited buyers before this year's auction.

She said before she steps into the auction ring, she andquot;always get(s) really nervous,andquot; especially if the initial bids are low.

That's when she has to kick those selling skills into high gear and remind her potential buyers of their interest.

andquot;You keep looking back at your bidders,andquot; Carrillo said.

You smile. You andquot;play the game,andquot; she said.

andquot;You learn a lot of salesmanship.andquot;

Carrillo's commitment appears to have paid off this year. She didn't expect Bad Boy to take the big blue ribbon.

andquot;I knew it was a nice lamb,andquot; she said. andquot;I didn't think I'd get grand champion. You never know.andquot;

John Jacobson, auction committee member and co-leader of 4-H Brookings Livestock Company, said more 4-H'ers made an aggressive effort to solicit bidders this year.

It paid off.

andquot;It was a very good sale,andquot; Jacobson said. andquot;Turnout and participation were awesome.andquot;

Jacobson said 29 4-H'ers sold animals in this year's auction.

Each participant was required to seek out two brand-new potential buyers this year, he said.

andquot;The kids and parents did a great job of getting out and contacting the community,andquot; he said.

Marion Carrillo, also a leader of the 4-H Brookings Livestock Company, was pleased with Saturday's turnout.

andquot;We haven't had this many buyers in a while,andquot; she said.

Though many of the animals drew good prices this year, Jacobson said it was still about half what 4-H animals draw at the Del Norte County Fair.

andquot;It's gotten better each year,andquot; Jacobson said. Still, they'll keep pushing for more participation and higher prices.

A strong 4-H contingency could also anchor the faltering fair, Jacobson added.

4-H leaders, including Jacobson and Marion Carrillo, want people to understand the auction process.

Once an animal is purchased at auction, the buyer can either take it home or have it processed, Jacobson said.

For those who want their purchase for dinner, 4-H takes the animal to either Gary's Custom Slaughtering in Fort Dick or Bussmann's Mobile Ranch Butchering and Processing in Bandon.

There is a fee for cutting and wrapping the meat. The customer must pick it up from their respective processor, Jacobson said.

Lori Botnen, of Brookings, returned to the auction after two years to buy another pig.

She said the last one she bought lasted her two years. Though the initial expense was high, Botnen said having that meat always in her freezer was worth it.

Plus, as Jacobson added, andquot;All the animals are antibiotic and hormone free.andquot;