Dixie National sales surpass $9 million
JACKSON, Miss. -- Hinds County 4-H’er Mason Williams had already represented Mississippi in a national competition less than a year ago, so showing animals in a statewide event was no sweat.
“Those experiences make it a little bit easier to be in front of all those people,” Williams said. “It doesn’t take all the pressure away, but it makes it easier to manage, so when you walk out there and see everybody, you don’t get stage fright.”
Williams’ hard work paid off when he placed a goat in the Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions and the highest bid was $8,000. More than 2,500 animals across the state competed in the Dixie National Junior Round-Up leading up to the sale. Of those, only 53 advanced.
A high school sophomore, Williams has been showing animals since he was 8 years old. Last year, he was one of only four Mississippi 4-H’ers to compete in the National 4-H Livestock Skillathon Contest. He attributes his social development to the opportunities 4-H membership has given him.
“I think it’s helped me get out of my shell a little,” he said. “I’ve always been kind of an introvert, but I enjoy competing and the feeling of winning and all that hard work paying off.”
This year’s sale, the 55th consecutive one, marked several milestones. It surpassed the $9 million mark in total sales, broke the record for the total number of champion market animals featured with 53, and set a new record sale total, $484,010.
Another record was also set: the highest price paid for a steer in sale history. The grand champion steer shown by Tripp McGee of Jones 4-H was sold for $30,000 to the highest bidding group.
Held Feb. 8 at the Mississippi Trade Mart, the Sale of Junior Champions included eight steers, 17 hogs, 12 lambs, 12 goats, and four hair sheep. The shows featured 1,225 members of 4-H and FFA showing 2,084 animals.
Dean Jousan, 4-H livestock specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said events like Dixie National help young people build life skills that will serve them now and into adulthood.
“The exhibitors with champion market animals began a lengthy process of raising them many months ago,” he said. “Getting any animal show-ready is challenging, but having one reach the sale should be a source of pride for these young people because they’ve gone the extra mile.”
The Sale of Junior Champions Promotion Committee awarded 25 $1,500 scholarships to exhibitors who are high school seniors, six $2,000 scholarships to premier exhibitors and eight $1,500 scholarships to owners of supreme champion livestock. In total, the committee awarded $61,500 in scholarships.