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The Block - It's more than a show pig

County fairs are an American tradition, offering a blend of community spirit, agriculture exhibition, and youth engagement. One of the longstanding traditions within these fairs is the livestock auction, where young exhibitors have the opportunity to sell their livestock projects. These auctions have always been about more than just the monetary aspect; they serve as a crucial learning experience and an avenue for youth to showcase their hard work and dedication. However, in the case of Scurry County, Texas, what was once a modest auction that merely covered exhibitor costs underwent an extraordinary transformation, raising over $750,000 for their exhibitors. Continue reading for an inspiring journey of how a small-town auction turned into a resounding success story.  

The Humble Beginnings

Like many other county fairs across the country, Scurry County had a long-standing tradition of hosting a livestock auction. For years, this event had been a respectable but unremarkable affair. The funds generated were barely enough to cover the costs associated with raising the animals, let alone provide any significant return for the young exhibitors. In 2019, the highest-selling animal sold for $800, and the dwindling interest in the auction was visible. It had become more of a chore than a cherished event.  

The Turning Point

Recognizing the declining interest and diminishing returns, a determined group of individuals decided it was time for a change. It was decided by a group of members on the livestock board to breathe new life into the Scurry County Junior Livestock Association (SCJLA) auction.  

Small Changes, Big Impact

The journey towards success began with incremental changes. Despite resistance from those who clung to the old ways, livestock board members and their wives, including Riley Ann Price, her husband Tyson, and their friend Will Collier, persisted. “The truth is, if nothing changes, nothing changes. If you do everything the same every time, it's never going to be any better than it was the time before,” said Riley Ann.     

The new team started with seemingly minor adjustments, like upgrading the show ring with improved flooring. These changes were met with skepticism, but they proved to be a crucial starting point.  

COVID-19 Challenge

As improvements were taking place, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, imposing significant restrictions on gatherings and events. The Scurry County Livestock Show was no exception. With no possibility of a traditional buyer's meal and strict limitations on the number of attendees, the livestock board faced yet another challenge. However, the board members were undeterred. They made bold decisions, moving the sale to a restaurant and removing the animals from the sale itself. Most importantly, they reimagined the event, transforming it into an experience rather than a transaction. The emphasis shifted from the mechanics of the auction to the people involved.  

Making It About the Buyers and Kids

Riley Ann Price captured the essence of their transformation when she said, "We made the sale about the buyers and we made the show about the kids." This shift in perspective was pivotal. The board initiated several changes, including dressing up for the event, presenting awards to top buyers, decorating the venue, and announcing add-on contributions during the auction. 

The committee members also personally invited community members to attend the event. A small effort, like knocking on the door of a business and extending an invitation, was a big reason why the community showed up to support the auction. They focused on making the buyers feel valued, appreciated, and essential contributors to a shared cause.  

The Triumph

The culmination of these efforts was astounding. The SCJLA auction, once struggling to reach $100,000, now consistently grosses over $750,000. The auction has become an event that people eagerly anticipate, rather than a routine occurrence. This transformation has not only secured the financial future of young exhibitors but also created a sense of community and enthusiasm that was previously lacking.

The remarkable journey of the Scurry County livestock auction serves as a testament to the power of vision, adaptability, and commitment to making positive changes. From barely covering costs to raising over $750,000, this story shows us that even long-standing traditions can evolve and thrive when approached with a renewed focus on the people involved. It is a shining example of how a small community came together to ensure a brighter future for its youth. The Scurry County auction is not just a financial success; it's a heartwarming story of community support, growth, and the enduring spirit of county fairs across America.

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