It was the largest and most profitable 4-H Livestock Auction in the history of the Ninilchik State Fair, according to Auctioneer Norm Blakeley, who has taken the bids ever since the auction was started.
"This is a great program and it's been growing every year. We ended up with some 56 entries total this year, and I've done the sale ever since Carrol and Joanne Martin got it started down here and that's the most we ever had," said Blakeley.
The prices were also the highest ever this year, thanks to the support of local businesses and individuals who generously bid and donate add-on contributions to encourage the work of 4-H club members. According to Carrol Martin, the prices paid at the Ninilchik Fair are now actually higher than at the State Fair in Palmer. He attributes that to people learning about the high quality of the product and that they can get together with a friend or neighbor and split a beef or hog.
"It makes a lot of sense for individuals to co-op and buy really good quality, organically raised meat," explained Martin. "The kids are learning more and earning more each year. It's fun and I like to see kids learn and see them stay out of trouble," said Carrol Martin, who also teaches the 4-H members the art of processing their own meat at his Diamond M Ranch on K-Beach Rd.
Martin has been teaching wild game and home grown meat processing at various venues on the Peninsula for over 30 years, "Slaughtering and butchering and being careful not to waste or spoil the meat is a really complicated process, and we want the kids to learn the skill and pay attention so that the meat is not wasted or spoiled," said Martin.
Fourteen-year-old Tatiana Butler of Nikiski has been in 4-H for four years and this year she raised a pig and a turkey for the 4-H Livestock Auction. "Raising the animal is a lot of work, and can get pretty frustrating at times, but you learn a lot about economics, savings, and practical real life skills and responsibilities and it's a lot fun too. I've made a lot of friends through the 4-H program," said Butler, who uses the money she makes from the auction to buy feed for her horse. "That's the way I support my horse, and my brother uses the money he earned to go to college," added Butler.
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