Future agricultural producers showed off their cattle — and their ability to close the sale — on Tuesday, hoping to find willing bidders among business leaders, elected officials, political insiders and others at the junior cattle sale. at the Colorado State Fair.
Bidders from the Pikes Peak Posse, Denver Rustlers, Fair Ladies, Pueblo Critter Bidders and many other organizations and businesses competed for hogs, steers, rabbits, lambs and goats at the auction of tuesday. The auction raised $491,000, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
The Pikes Peak Posse, now in its 25th year or so, is a group of approximately 70 Colorado Springs business, elected, and community leaders. They won a record 14 animals, spending around $35,000. Their best buy was a trio of Reserve Champion Rabbits presented by Weld County’s Aidan Datteri, for $3,000.
That pales in comparison to the larger Denver Rustlers, a group of about 230 people who gathered in Denver before boarding buses for Pueblo. Largely in competition with the Sam Brown family of Pueblo, cattle auction legends who have spent more than $2 million supporting youth organizations Competitors with 4-H and Future Farmers of America since 1966, the Rustlers have spent $36,000 alone on just one animal: the Grand Champion Market Hog owned by Avery Kimble of Montrose County.
The day started for those heading to the fair with rallies in Denver and Colorado Springs. Then it was on the buses for a possible meeting of the two groups just south of the El Paso County line. Once ready, a five-vehicle Pueblo County Sheriff’s escort drove the buses to the fairgrounds.
The auction included a lunch served by Classic Catering, owned by Colorado restaurateur Jim Beatty.
There was plenty of talk over lunch by elected officials, who included both Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and his Republican challenger, Heidi Ganahl.
And then it was time for the auction, for which Republican US Senate candidate Joe O’Dea was also present.
Once an animal has been auctioned off, according to Scott Smith of the Pikes Peak Posse, the winner can choose to have it processed.
“It’s one of the best meats you’ll ever have,” Smith said.
Most of the animals auctioned on Tuesday are around six months old, although steers are up to two years old. Young people buy the animals, learn how to raise them, keep track of their expenses, how to market and show the animal and finally learn to let go when the animal is sold at auction.
Competitors who make it to the auction top the hundreds of entries in livestock categories at the state fair each year.
Around 139 animals were to be auctioned during the three-hour event, led by reserve bigs and champions in pigs, steers, rabbits, lambs and goats.
At first, the competition was fierce for the best animals. The Sam Brown family won the big market champion shown by Weld County’s Stetson Gabel, which sold for $56,000.
Also on Tuesday is the second annual Governor’s Plate competition at the Pueblo Bank & Trust Pavilion, featuring nine food trucks. The main requirement: how well competitors highlight Colorado Proud products, according to Polis. Tuesday’s fare included last year’s winner, Papa Mario’s grilled cheese along with pizza, a “Cup of Cobbler” with Colorado peaches and entrees with local favorite Pueblo peppers.
“Everyone wins on flavor,” Polis told Colorado Politics, though he kept his favorite to himself. Polis chief of staff Lisa Kaufman told Colorado Politics her personal favorites were a delicious Habanero Peach Cup-O-Cobbler from Edgewater and a pizza from Stoke Pizza in Pueblo.
Two winners are chosen: one by the governor and the other through a People’s Choice contest.
The peach cobbler, which featured habanero peppers for a different take on the classic, took first place. Papa Mario’s grilled cheese sandwich, which includes corn and chiles from Musso Farms in Pueblo and Belford cheese from James Ranch in Durango, won the People’s Choice award.