Lowell Mohler Assembly Hall was packed with bidders as 9-year-old Kati Viets of Sweet Springs showed him at the Missouri State Fair Sale of Champions Saturday afternoon. It was only her second year showing at the state fair, "I've been showing since I was little, though."
Covered in glitter, Bling-Bling strutted as the young redhead guided him in front of the audience. He was as graceful as a 280-pound crossbreed pig can be.
The fast-talking auctioneer quickly raised the price up by the thousands for the barrow deemed the best in Missouri, champion of the fair. Bids finally settled with a $16,000 bid from MFA Inc. along with area businesses, setting a new record for a state fair champion barrow.
"It's exciting," Viets said, adding that she skipped school Friday because of the fair.
She was just one of the many Saline Countians to make out well at the fair. "Saline County has had a heck of a year at the state fair," said Mindy Montgomery, intern for the Missouri State Fair, helping with the sale.
While Bling-Bling was making the rounds, Montgomery sat quickly tabulating winning bids, calculating money raised and helping run the event. In total, the champion and reserve champion animals brought in $121,450. A portion of that money goes toward scholarships through the Missouri State Fair Youth in Agriculture Fund.
Montgomery can rattle off a long list of Saline County fair-goers who made out well in the competition; including Jade Jenkins who had the reserve champion 4-H market lamb.
"This is the closest I'll ever get to the Sale of Champions," she said. "I've had a lot of fun. I've met a lot of people. ... I get to rub elbows with the big wigs."
Montgomery has shown her own animals including lambs and hogs in the past. This year she exhibited cattle. "It's just kind of a family event," she said, adding her father and grandfather have also been exhibitors at the state event.
It makes for a busy August. "Time stops when the Missouri State Fair comes to town," Montgomery said.
Saline County was responsible for more than 500 entries at the fair this year.
The 11-day Missouri State Fair concluded on Sunday. Next year's fair is scheduled from Aug. 10 to 20, 2006.
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