Livestock auctions makes killing at Rodeo

Emmanuel Akinola, Staff Writer

Around Texas, young people bring their livestock to vie for some of the most coveted titles in the industry: Houston Champion. They participate in the NRG Arena Sales Pavilion around noon on auction days to grab a seat to bid on the year’s top-quality livestock.

At the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, high school seniors can serve as exhibitors at several livestock auctions.

“For the students that are participating in the auction, they have a guaranteed payment…. [and] any student in the state of Texas can apply for a scholarship on the rodeo’s website,” explained Cheryl Deitcher at the Barrow Auction on March 18.

Deitcher has served as Vice President of the Auction Committee for the past two years and has been with the Rodeo since the late 90s. She is originally from Virginia, but moved at a young age. She oversees four of the auctions at the Houston rodeo.

Auctions range from wine, poultry, ranching, lamb and goats, swine, steer and school art. The benefits of the high prices reach the exhibitor as well as students across Texas through the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Educational Fund.

Through set totals of premium payments, the auction show ensures a successful future for the exhibitor while any excess money goes toward helping other students in their pursuit of higher education.

Deitcher noted that the Grand Champion Swine and the Reserve Champion Swine went for $1,000 more than the previous year. Specifically, the Grand Champion sold for $209,000 and the Reserve Champion Swine sold for $129,000.

“Not all of that money goes to that student,” Deitcher notes. Each auction lot has a cap amount, and sales above that number go into the HLSR’s Educational Fund. “They [exhibitors] have a guaranteed commitment that they’ll get from the show, which is significantly less than that [sale amount].”

Dressed in green vests, Deitcher and her assistants handle exhibitor registration, bidder registration, providing lunches, livestock with the exhibitors and photographs with the buyers.

One of the student exhibitors, Corey Atchison, participated in the barrow auction on Friday. He won fifth place in the auction itself. He’s a high school sophomore and plans on attending Alvin Community College. The auction event was Atchison’s first time in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Atchinson said that exhibiting “teaches you discipline and being responsible for what you need to do [and] keeps you off from doing bad things.”

He won $1,200 from the auction and hopes to give back to the HLSR at some point. His plan right now is to major in processing technology while at Alvin.

The 2016 Grand Champion Swine winner was Kylie Rieger, 16, from Lexington, Texas. He is a member of the Lexington FFA Club Chapter. The auction of his animal set a world record at $209,000. Among others, Excel Contractors was one of the many buyers.

Jake Weatherford, 17, had the Reserve Grand Champion Swine. Weatherford is from Dumas, Texas and is a member of the Dumas FFA Chapter. His animal sold for $129,000 which is  another world record in the auction.

Since 2001, past prices for the barrow auctions have gone anywhere from $72,000 in the Reserve Championship; $135,000 in the Grand Championship to upwards of $120,000 and $200,000. In total, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo auction sales have totaled about $14 million.