The Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions

I realize I’m writing this a few days post facto, but it’s been a busy week, so indulge me. Lindsay and I were once again privileged to host the Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions. This marks the fourth year we’ve anchored the live television broadcast in partnership with the Ohio News Network. For us, this is the most important event of the year. As kids who grew up in 4-H and FFA, showing livestock is a key part of what shaped us into passionate advocates for Ohio agriculture. Most importantly, we value the work and dedication these students put into their projects, and in turn, the money they raise through the Sale of Champions for the Youth Reserve Program.


The Youth Reserve is one of the most impressive youth development programs in agriculture. Since its creation in the late ’90s, the program has served to reward junior exhibitors who participate in the Ohio State Fair. Funds for the program come from the dollars received over a cap that is placed on the amount an exhibitor can receive from the Sale of Champions. The funds from the program are distributed among carcass contests, scholarships, the outstanding market exhibitor program, the outstanding breeding exhibitor program, showmanship, skillathons, 4-H and FFA. The Youth Reserve Program has awarded 20,000 youth exhibitors more than $1.5 million since its inception.


This year, the Sale was historic. Breaking six of eight records, shattering several of them in fact, and setting the highest Sale gross in Ohio State Fair history, it was a night we’ll all remember for a long time.


For me, I’ll also remember it as the night agribusiness really stepped to the plate. We welcomed several new buyers into the Sale this year, and welcomed home a few buyers from yesteryear, too. The Sale is known for the staunch support of perennial buyers like Kroger, Meijer, Charlie Cox, the Vivona Family, and my good friend Steve Rauch. These buyers have each supported the sale for at least a decade, along with several of their business partners like Park Farms or the Union Stock Yards.


In addition to those stalwarts, a trio of agribusiness firms made their presence known in a big way. JD Equipment, Elgin Service Center, and S&S Volvo/GMC purchased the Grand Champion Steer for $65,000. The highlight of the sale, the Grand Champion Steer has traditionally been the domain of heavyweights like Kroger and Rauch. This year, these three firms partnered to support Ohio agriculture, and tell the story of the farm kids who make this state special. JD, with stores in London, Lancaster, Marion, Washington Court House, Wilmington, and Easton (Columbus), made their Sale of Champions debut a few years back, but really made a splash by partnering with two new buyers.


Elgin Service Center, makers of the K Building and dealers in top shelf grain handling and storage equipment, had already decided they were taking part in the Sale this year long before the Fair started. S&S, selling trucks to several farms and agribusinesses in Northwestern Ohio, joined the group to congratulate their mutual customer the Heintz family. It always excites me when agricultural businesses get involved in the Sale of Champions, and especially when they take a run at the Champion Steer.


Likewise, we were once again thrilled to chat with Eileen Kale of Kale Marketing in Richwood. The Sale lost a key supporter, and more importantly we all lost a close friend, with the passing of Eileen’s husband DeLyn this year. The Kale Family, including nephew Troy who is a major driving force in the family business, are one of my favorites at the Sale. In addition to the work they do at the Sale of Champions, Kale Marketing support numerous county fair sales as well. Eileen carried on the Kale legacy this year, and I’m especially excited that she’s still pulling DeLyn’s tractor on the OSTPA/NTPA circuits.


Along with making new friends, we welcomed back an old friend. Bob Evans Farms joined the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation to purchase the Reserve Grand Champion Market Barrow. Bob Evans himself is one of the “Founding Fathers” of the Sale. He, along with legends like Governor Jim Rhoades, Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, and livestock auctioneer Merlin Woodruff brought the sale from a simple idea to being one of the most famous livestock sales in the world. Absent from the festivities for several years, Farm Bureau leveraged a growing partnership with the restaurant chain and food company to get the Bob Evans name back in the ring. It was truly special, especially considering that Bob Evans purchased 20 out of 23 Champion Barrows at the Ohio State Fair from 1957- 1984. The company donated the meat from the barrow to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.


Here’s the full recap:


The results of the 2010 Sale of Champions are as follows:


Grand Champion Market Beef

Exhibited by: Danielle Heintz, Auglaize County

Purchased by: S & S Volvo and GMC Trucks of Lima, OH; J.D. Equipment; Elgin Service Center

Price: $65,000

Cap: $21,000


Reserve Grand Champion Market Beef*

Exhibited by: Andy Sloan, Richland County

Purchased by: Steve R. Rauch Excavating and Demolition

Price: $30,000

Cap: $10,000


Grand Champion Market Barrow

Exhibited by: Haley Clinker, Defiance County

Purchased by: Meijer, Inc.

Price: $42,000

Cap: $9,000


Reserve Grand Champion Market Barrow*

Exhibited by: Alec Bremek, Logan County

Purchased by: Bob Evans Farms; Ohio Farm Bureau

Price: $27,000

Cap: $6,000


Grand Champion Market Lamb*

Exhibited by: Rachael Overs, Logan County

Purchased by: The Kroger Company

Price: $45,000

Cap: $9,000


Reserve Grand Champion Market Lamb*

Exhibited by: Madison Banbury, Knox County

Purchased by: Kale Marketing; Huffman’s Market; Burkhart Farm Center; Ohio Racing Industry; Direct Feeds

Price: $22,000

Cap: $6,000


Grand Champion Meat Chickens*

Exhibited by: Tyler Gray, Union County

Purchased by: The Kroger Company; Park Farms

Price: $27,000

Cap: $5,000


Reserve Grand Champion Meat Chickens*

Exhibited by: Garrett Shafer, Miami County

Purchased by: Concessions by Cox; Amusements of America; Event Marketing Strategies; Brian Shenkman

Price: $14,500

Cap: $3,000


2010 total sale: $272,500

2010 amount earned for Youth Reserve Program: $203,500


*indicates new record


Records broken include:

Reserve Grand Champion Market Beef, previous record was $27,000 set in 2009 by the Kroger Company; Reserve Grand Champion Market Barrow, previous record was $26,000 set in 2008 by Meijer, Inc.; Grand Champion Market Lamb, previous record was $30,000 set in 2001 by the Kroger Company; Reserve Grand Champion Market Lamb, previous record was $17,500 set in 2006 by Kale Marketing, Burkhart Farm Center and J.D. Equipment; Grand Champion Meat Chickens, previous record was $18,000 set in 2001 by the Kroger Company; Reserve Grand Champion Meat Chickens, previous record was $11,500 set in 2008 by Kale Marketing and Burkhart Farm Center.


It was a great night. We’ll have DVD’s of the live television broadcast available for purchase on the website next week.