Native from behind the block

LEWISTOWN – Mark Glick has watched the Mifflin County Youth Fair grow from behind the auction block.

The Brown Township native said he has been auctioning youth livestock in Mifflin County for 59 years, soon to be 60, since the inception of the fair in 1954.

Glick said the first 4-H fairs, called roundups, were held at Kish Park in Lewistown. At that time, only swine was sold, he said. Project hogs were gathered and delivered to the Belleville sale barn where they were auctioned.

Glick said he doesn’t have records of early sales, but he estimated that hogs sold for about 15-20 cents per pound, and 4-H’ers pocketed one or two cents on each sale.

4-H animals were auctioned in Belleville until 1966, two years after construction began on the current Mifflin County Youth Park in Reedsville. It was around this time that the swine sale turned into an all-livestock sale, Glick said. According to an informational article about the fair, the first livestock sale raised $5,530.37.

The annual auction has endured significant changes since its modest beginnings, he said. The 2013 grand champion hog brought in a high bid of $4 per pound, and the average bid for other hogs was $2 per pound.

“It’s a good support,” he said, explaining that 4-H students work hard all year to raise their project animals.

“They get attached to them,” he added.

The sale also has become an effective advertising program for local businesses, Glick said. In the auction’s early years, buyers had to keep the animals they purchased. Now buyers can take advantage of a buy-back program. Businesses can support youth by purchasing animals and reselling them to another buyer at market price – the original buyer pays the difference.

Glick said this allows anyone to support the sale, even those who aren’t interested in keeping the animal. Buyers are recognized through newspaper advertising, radio, the next year’s fair book and word of mouth.

This year’s 4-H and FFA Livestock Sale will include poultry, market goats and lambs, steers, hogs, dairy feeders and rabbits.

The auction is set to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in the show building at the Mifflin County Youth Park in Reedsville.