The Illinois State Fair Sale of Champions Tuesday generated record prices for five exhibitors. Prize winning animals and farm products raised a total of $159,210 for young people who exhibited as well as for the state’s 4-H and FFA youth education programs.
Early in the auction, twelve-year-old Chelsea Wycoff, of Piper City, Illinois, who was recently diagnosed with the autism disorder Asperger’s syndrome, pledged to donate half of the money she earned to Easter Seals.
Wycoff’s grand champion rabbit meat pen trio rabbits sold for $6,200. The rabbits were immediately donated back and sold again for another $3,400, which went to Easter Seals. More than $6,500 in cash donations to Easter Seals was generated from the crowd when a large bucket was passed.
“They’ve done a lot to help me, so I wanted to give back to them and help them help others,” Wycoff told Brownfield Ag News after her rabbits were sold.
The grand champion wether, exhibited by18-year-old Caleb Whitcomb of Greenview, Illinois, was auctioned for $17,200, breaking the previous record by nearly $5,000.
The last animal to sell also brought the most money. The grand champion steer, shown by 16-year-old A.J. Line of Seaton, broke another record, bringing $52,000, or $800 higher than the former record.
There’s nothing that can really describe this,” Line said to Brownfield Ag News as he calmed the 1,300-pound black-hided crossbred following the sale. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The money will go to a college fund, a steer for next year and hopefully to start a new cow herd, according to Line.
When it was younger, Line’s animal had lost part of one ear to frostbite, so Line called the steer Holyfield, a reference to boxer Evander Holyfield, who had a part of an ear bitten off in a fight with Mike Tyson.
But the high school junior also donated 10 percent of his winnings to the Orion Samuelson Hospital at St. Mary’s Order of St. Francis.
Other records were set for the champion barrow, which earned 17-year-old Trey Fecke of Bonfield $24,500, the Land of Lincoln Supreme Champion dairy print, which netted Trent Kilgus $3,000, and the Land of Lincoln champion barrow, which brought Kane Austin $11,000.
The junior producers who raised the champion animals receive 80 percent of the sales price, according to Illinois State Fair officials. The 4-H and FFA programs split the remaining 20 percent equally.