Emotions ran high at the Marion County Fair livestock sale on July 18.

The livestock sale serves as the final event of the fair each year. 4-H and FFA members sell the livestock projects they have been working on throughout the year. Animals up for auction during the sale include swine, beef, sheep and goats. Various small livestock projects are also up for auction during the sale.

While the sale serves as the conclusion of the county fair, it also serves as the end of a relationship between the exhibitor and their animal. After months of laboring with the livestock to prepare for the show ring, the sale marks the final few moments each exhibitor gets to spend with their animal before it is sent to the packing plant.

It is not uncommon to see tears running down the cheeks of exhibitors as they take their sheep for one final walk around the ring or adjust their calf’s legs while it is centered in the livestock pavilion. After all, the sale is the final time exhibitors will step into the show ring with the animals they poured hours into in preparation for fair.

Although the livestock sale is a sad day for many exhibitors, it also gives them something to be proud of. While they are no longer being judged and competing for ribbons in the show ring, the sale is the moment when exhibitors are rewarded for the months of hard work with their projects.

Buyers from local businesses across the county attend the livestock sale to bid on and purchase the animals up for auction. The sale is a way for businesses to show support for not only local youth but also the 4-H and FFA programs.

“4-H is an incredible program,” says Casey Gerhardt, Assistant Vice President at Iowa State Savings Bank. “It’s important to us to support the kids. This is the kind of stuff that will create the leaders of tomorrow.”

Gerhardt, who also oversees agricultural lending at Iowa States Savings Bank, says the bank is very agriculturally focused. Because of this, the business sees value in programs such as 4-H and FFA, especially as they benefit youth in the community.

“From our point of view, we believe in it and we believe in the kids,” says Gerhardt. “We think it’s a great program.”

The support shown from local businesses throughout the county helps exhibitors feel better during the sale. Knowing the work they put into their livestock is appreciated by others takes away some of the sting that comes with saying goodbye to the animals.

As the livestock sale ends and the final animals leave the ring and are taken to the trailers, exhibitors begin thinking ahead to next year’s county fair. They will return with new animals and projects, ready once again to enter the show ring.