Sale of Ribbons
For 4-H animal exhibitors, the Dodge County Fair brings an opportunity to show their animals and make some big bucks at the same time. And this year this did it in record-setting fashion.
The 4-H Ribbon Auction held Saturday morning brought in nearly $50,000, easily surpassing the previous record set in 2016 of $44,000.It has been a tradition in Dodge County for more than four decades. Livestock exhibitors have been selling their animals during the county fair since 1976. Animals earning purple and blue ribbons during the fair end up in a special spot. They’re sold in a sale of ribbons.
This year’s auction featured 112 animals, including swine, beef, dairy, horse, goat, sheep, poultry, dog and rabbit. Even if 4-Hers bring multiple animals to the fair, they can only sell one animal in the auction, according to Kelly Vincelette, 4-H program coordinator for Dodge County. “They choose which animal to sell,” she said.
The top animal was a beef cow, which brought in $1,450. The average animal generated $450.
Proceeds from the auction are given to the 4-Her as well as the 4-H program, Vincelette said. This year 4-H decided to establish a new structure for the auction. In the past, kids got a set amount from the auction. However, this year a percentage system was set with grand champion exhibitors earning 70 percent, reserve champions 60 percent and blue ribbons 50 percent.
“These kids put in so much time and effort into their projects,” Vincelette said. “This helps offset some of the costs of what it takes to raise animals. They reap the rewards from their hard work,” she added.
Vincelette said 4-H members were also encouraged to go out into the community to invite businesses to the auction. Judging by the success of this year’s auction, she said, “It tells me the kids went out to the businesses and did their part.”
She noticed several new businesses at the auction this year as well as some that hadn’t been at the auction or several years. “It’s really exciting and fun to see,” Vincelette said. Representing CHS, Ben Jensen purchased two animals during the auction—the reserve champion dairy cow for $600 and a goat for $350.
“Supporting the kids is huge,” said Jensen, who is also a former 4-H member. “It’s a good way to show that you are there for them.” Jensen will also travel to other fairs
supporting the 4-H Auction this summer. He plans to attend Olmsted, Winona, Fillmore, Mower and Steele counties.
Said Jensen: “It brings involvement of 4-H and the community together. Involvement is the key to keep it going.”
The auction is “extremely important” to the 4-H program, Vincelette noted. “Without this, we wouldn’t be able to have the opportunities and great things we do,” she said, noting the auction is 4-H’s largest fundraiser of the year. “It give us opportunity to help youth year around,” she said. Among the areas where the money is used are scholarships, improvements to the 4-H Building and sending kids to the State Fair.
Scott Schley, a fair board member who helps with the auction, said the auction began in 1976 as a way to pay for new buildings on the fairgrounds. Proceeds from the auction have helped pay for the judging arena, horse barn and dairy parlor, he said.