Washington County Fair ends on high note, high prices

MARIETTA – The 2013 Washington County Fair ended on a relatively high note Tuesday with attendance up from last year and some higher prices for 4-H livestock market sales.

A 129-pound champion market lamb, appropriately named “Champ,” brought a record bid of $21 per pound for 10-year-old Molly Ketchum of Marietta during the fair’s large animal sale Tuesday night. The animal was purchased by Hall & Hall Oil.

“I was excited, but also sad because I didn’t want to leave Champ,” Ketchum said. “This is my second year with market lambs, and I think this is what I want to do my whole life.”

The previous record price for a champion market lamb was $12.90, observed Alison Baker, Ohio State University Extension educator for 4-H youth development in Washington County.

“The prices are up for market livestock this year,” she said. “The reserve market lamb went for $11 a pound this year, which was really higher than last year’s bid of $7 per pound.”

Baker said market beef prices were good, too.

Aidan Woodruff, from Vincent, earned $4 a pound for his champion market steer-a 59-cent-per-pound increase over last year, while Tyler Welch’s reserve champion steer brought $3.61 per pound, 51 cents more than last year’s reserve champion.

“The community support for our animal sales is just tremendous,” Baker said. “And we’ve had some new buyers this year.”

Curt Welch, owner of R.C. Construction in Cutler, is continuing a family tradition of purchasing 4-H-raised livestock at fairs in Washington and surrounding counties.

“My mom and dad originally had the business, and they bought livestock every year,” he said. “We get letters from kids all over the region asking us to buy their animals. And we do try to buy from some kids who may not have the champion livestock.”

He did purchase a 1,234-pound market steer at $2.85/lb. from co-premier exhibitor and 2013 Fair Princess Morgan Smith, 17, of Little Hocking.

“I’ve been competing at the fair since I was 9 years old,” Smith said. “I started with lambs, and began working with steers when I was 10. This is what I strive for every year. The premier exhibitor category is judged on all three areas, including beef marketing, skill, and showmanship. That makes this award special.”

Smith also raised a market lamb she showed during Tuesday’s event.

Curt Welch’s son, Cole Welch, 15, has been raising sheep for eight years now.

“I think sheep are more of a challenge (than steers),” he said. “You have to put in more practice time in the show ring with a lamb.”

Cole showed two lambs at the 2013 fair.

“It seems like there’s a lot of good competition this year,” he said.

Joe Pugh, 17, of Waterford raised a 131-pound market lamb in the premier exhibitor category.

“I started raising sheep when I was 8-I just enjoy raising them, and it’s something to keep me busy during the summer,” he said. “We usually get them when they’re just 50 pounds or so, then raise them to around 130 pounds.”

Pugh had the grand champion market lamb last year.

“It was awesome,” he said.

A total of 139 animals were sold during the 2013 large animal sale.

Overall the 2013 fair was deemed a success, according to fair board treasurer Sandy Hickey who said Saturday brought the largest crowd with about 7,200 ticket sales, compared to 5,800 on the same day in 2012.

“We had 6,800 on Sunday, compared to 6,100 on Sunday last year, but on Monday the sales were down from last year by about 350,” she said. “We had 4,650 on Monday, but last year we sold around 5,000 tickets that day.”

Taking past fairs into account, Hickey said 2013 was probably about average.

“But we’re very happy with the attendance this year,” she added.