With no Cattaraugus County Fair this year due to coronavirus concerns, the annual 4-H Market Class Animal Auction is going online.

The virtual 2020 Cattaraugus County Youth Market Sale Online Auction begins Friday at 6 p.m., and continuing until 6 p.m. Saturday.

Peterson Auctions and Realty Service, Frewsburg, is hosting the online auction for the Cattaraugus County 4-H Youth Market Sale Online Auction Livestock Committee at Petersonauction.com/auctions.

Bidders will need to register on the site in order to make a bid.

“It’s going pretty well,” said 4-H Development Youth Educator Abby Luzier. “We keep getting phone calls about it. It’s a promising sale given the circumstances.”

There are 38 youths looking to auction about 75 animals from cows to pigs, lambs, chickens and turkeys, Luzier said.

Typically, at the Market Class Animal Auction at the county fair, there would be about 220 animals and 120 kids, Luzier said. The youths would line up potential buyers before the auction.

It’s still up to the participants to find potential bidders.

“It means a lot,” Luzier said. “Especially for the older exhibitors. They will use that money toward future expenses like college, getting into the workforce or buying a farm. They learn valuable life skills like dealing with the public and how to market themselves and their animals.”

Eight-year-old Wyatt Shields of Randolph is in his first year of 4-H after two years as a Cloverbud. What does he think of the online auction?

“It’s weird,” Wyatt replied, saying he’s auctioning his Suffolk lamb, Concrete. He’s missing his friends he’d be hanging out with at the county fair, too.

What has Wyatt done to market his lamb?

He’s been asking people he and his parents know — friends and family to buy the lamb, his turkey and chickens. Wyatt gives out picture cards with information on how to bid for them during the auction.

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Wyatt’s brother Ayden, 11, is also selling a lamb, turkey, hog and chickens at the virtual auction.

“We’ve had more interest in our animals than before,” Shields said. “People have stopped at the farm to see the animals. We’ve also put the information on Facebook. What better way to buy local?”

Shields remembers showing animals at the county fair when he was a kid. Hopefully it will be able to be held next year, he said.

Ayden, with his multiple animals in the auction, said, “I don’t really know how it’s going to go.”

Like Wyatt, Ayden has reached out to family, friends and neighbors to let them know about the auction Friday and Saturday.

“We ask them to buy our animals,” he said. “We give them cards with the picture of the animals.”

Aden said this is the fourth year of participating in the 4-H market animal auction. Besides recouping his costs of raising the animals, he’s “saving up for college.”

The boys took their lambs to a show in Genesee County where they were able to compete against others — something they were unable to do because the county fair here was canceled, Shields said.

Eric Clayson is chairman of the 4-H Livestock Committee and is very happy that 4-H has been able to team up with Peterson Auctions to put on the virtual animal auction.

“The whole thing is new for us this year,” Clayson said.

“With the pandemic this year, things didn’t work out so good,” he said. “I’m hoping it turns out really big this year. It’s nothing like going to the fair. We knew we had to do something. Some other fairs didn’t do this. I’m hoping the fair gets back on track next year.”

Clayson assumes that many youth will arrange private sales to recoup their costs and be able to put a little something in the bank. They won’t get the advertising boost for the buyer that the 4-H Market Animal Auction does, he said.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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