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Buyers "Champion" Young Livestock Exhibitors
JACKSON -- Generous buyers rewarded exhibitors of 33 champion market animals with another record-setting sale following the recent Dixie National Junior Livestock Show.
Dr. Joe Baker, animal specialist with Mississippi State University' Extension Service, said the 1998 Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions netted $185,654. The previous record was set last year at $161,431.
"Buyers have been very generous in their support of 4-H and FFA exhibitors in recent years. They bid very aggressively and help improve the financial rewards for these hard-working young people," Baker said.
All three species -- steers, hogs and lambs -- posted new record averages. The nine steers averaged $8.44 per pound, hogs averaged $16.08 per pound, and lambs averaged $27.71 per pound.
The top selling steer sold for $16.50 per pound to Pete Frierson Building Supply. Frierson has shown his support of the junior livestock program for many years, and usually has bought two steers at each year's sale.
"I feel very strongly about supporting these kids. I got my start in 4-H," Frierson said. A 4-H livestock project earned him a scholarship to the University of Florida in the 1930s.
"These kids work hard all year round to make it into the Sale of Champions with their animals. It's important for buyers to reward their responsibility and hard work," Frierson said.
As a member of the Sale Committee, Frierson has also been strongly committed to the special academic scholarship program that rewards young exhibitors who work hard but don't qualify for the Sale.
"We gave five $1,000 scholarship last year and 12 this year. I hope we will continue to increase the number of scholarships in the years to come," Frierson said. "We just need more buyers committed to rewarding young people for hard work."
Two of this year's sale's biggest supporters were Bernie and John Ebbers, representing WorldCom, Columbus Lumber Co., Pine Ridge Farm and MCI.
"It takes people like the Ebbers and Mr. Frierson to make this premium sale one of the most rewarding events for young livestock exhibitors in the country," Baker said. "We've had numerous buyers and exhibitors who return to this sales arena year after year. It is an exciting experience for everyone involved."
One Clarke County family has experienced the rewards from many past sales. The children of Robert and Dianne Evans' -- Deena, Robert, Harrell and Joe -- have combined to take part in the Sale of Champions 15 out of 18 possible years. 1998 was the third year for them to have two steers in the sale.
Their father attributed their success to the children's ability to "do the best with what they had." Two of his sons, Robert and Harrell, are pursuing animal science degrees. Although this is the last year his youngest son, Joe, will be able to compete, Evans is counting the years until his grandchildren will be old enough to take part in livestock projects.
"Four more years and Deena's oldest child will be 8. We're looking forward to it," Evans said.