BOX ELDER COUNTY FAIR - By Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, August 31, 2022
The 2022 Box Elder County Fair had been dismantled, folded up and put away for another year. The shelves are empty, the stalls unoccupied. The smell of burgers and barbecue are little more than a memory.
Oh, but what a memory! This year’s fair was one for the books. Good food, great entertainment, huge crowds and the best Junior Livestock Auction Box Elder County has ever seen. In fact, according to Box Elder Junior Livestock and Auction President Lyle Holmgren, if the numbers play out as anticipated, this year’s will be record breaking.
“This year was incredible,” Holmgren said. “From the standpoint of dollars and cents, we wound up at the sale with $1.65M. Last year we were $1.2 at this point. We are expecting to reach around $500,000 dollar mark on the boosts so that would put us just over $2M. That has never been done in Utah.”
Holmgren said the local junior livestock auction was the first one in the state to reach the $1M in sales just a few years ago, “and now here we are at $2M.” That money is divided amongst the young 4-H and FFA exhibitors who sold 735 animals in a 12-hour marathon run on Saturday, August 28. Lambs led the numbers with 344, hogs at 187, steers were down with 108 and goats totaled 96.
Holmgren, a retired county extension agent, said he is always amazed at the continued support the auction receives.
“The first year that I was involved, we brought in $195,000 at the sale. The next year we almost hit a quarter million dollars. It was said then, we can’t keep this up.”
But, Holmgren, who has been a part of the Box Elder County fair for the past 33 years, said, with the exception of one year, the sale has continued to increase the amount of money it brings in for the youth. That money comes from businesses, big and small, families, ranch owners, neighbors and friends. It’s not one individual that makes a difference, it is everyone who shows up and makes a bid or adds a boost.
But numbers are not what the auction or even the fair is completely about, Holmgren noted. “A lot of good comes from this program, a lot of benefit. A lot of those kids will save their money up. They go to school, they start a business, they get their own herd and start their own ranching projects. There are a lot of things that are really, really good that comes from this program.”
Holmgren shared a few of the “good things,” from this year’s auction that puts an explanation point on the value of the event. He told of one young lady, just 12-years-old, who had lost her mother and, more recently, her grandfather to suicide. She walked into the auction ring and sold her steer for a nice profit. She then turned around and donated a portion of that bid money to promote suicide awareness. Read more on that story on the link below.
Another gentleman, a spectator, walked into the auction office with a problem.
“He said, ‘I’ve got this animal that was put on my name that I didn’t bid on,’” Holmgren recalled. “Can you figure out who really bid on it?’ Then on his way out he said, ‘If you can’t find who that was, don’t worry about it. I will take care of it. I don’t want that 4-H or FFA member to go without on this, so I will cover it.’”
Holmgren also added the moment of appreciation shown for past Extension Agent Josh Dallin for his dedication to the program here in the county as another highlight of the fair, as well as the respect shown to him personally by so many of the youth as he walked around the grounds.
“That is what this event is all about,” Holmgren continued. “It’s an amazing community, it’s amazing volunteers and amazing buyers. I don’t know how else to say it. It is so engrained in who we are as a county. Through it, hopefully, we are making our community a better place to be a part of.”
He said the credit for its enduring success is those who appreciate the uniqueness of the annual fair and the importance of the livestock program.
“This program works because of individuals who are buying some animals, who love the program and want to see it succeed. They are doing what they can to make it work. That is what makes this county fair work. It doesn’t matter if it is the Junior Livestock Sale or if it is the 4-H exhibits, or the Arts exhibit or the small animals or the rodeo. It doesn’t matter. It is all the same. It is all these people who are making it work. The personality that makes this county fair what it is, we hope it never changes.”
Photos by John Hurley