I walk into work one morning and on my desk is an envelope with a note on the outside that says “AJ please be the highest bidder on BOTH pigs”.
So, I sit down and take out the letters that are in the envelope, and I proceed to read a buyers letter that has been given to my boss. At this point I am excited that I get to go to the 4-H Auction as a buyer, then I go to the second page in the envelope, this letter in typed and on yellow paper, different from the first letter. I then start to read the short letter that starts out by saying that the 4-H group encountered a tragic accident that involved two members of their group. I continue to read on, and tears are forming and then I have to wipe away the tears from my cheeks…
The Carousel Club suffered the loss of two members of their group, a father and daughter lost their lives in a tragic accident this winter, and surviving the accident was Noelle, sister and daughter to the ones who lost their lives. The 4-H Club in honor of Dave and Chirsta, the Club raised a swine in their honor to be shown and auctioned off at the NW Michigan Fair. The proceeds from the auction will be going towards Noelle’s College Fund. This honorary pig is Named Ginger for Chirsta’s Red hair, by now I am glad that no one is in my office with me, because my heart is hurting because I cannot imagine the hurt that this group has suffered.
I find myself honored to be a part of this, it isn’t just a “job” to do this, and I have a purpose, a reason, a story behind the buying power. I knew the owner of AWS West had a heart, and was a good man and this was a good company, but now there is a different light. I have a couple of weeks to “plan” my purchase, wondering what pigs auction for? Who knows, I had never bought an animal at the Fair before, this would be a great day!!
Auction day arrives, August 8, 2013, I find myself at the Fair by 7:30 to get ready for an auction that begins at 9!! I get registered and get my number, 716! Many more people before me, and I wonder how many after me?
I walk to the arena where the auction is to be held, and there are so many people there already, I decide to take a seat in the center and down in front of the “walkway” so that I can see the animals walk through as they are bid on. I take my seat, and open my auction book to see where my pigs are in the lineup on auction day!! There are 232 Swine to be auctioned of today, my pigs are #137 and #232 , of course the memorial pig is the last on out for the auction… I settle back for a long day!!
Auction begins and the place is packed, standing room only, I do not see very many open seats. As the auction gets under way, the 4-H kids are working the crowd offering coffee, drinks and food! Yes, food! You didn’t have to leave your seat, they had snacks, drinks and when lunch time came the kids would deliver it to you at your seat! They sure know how to take care of their buyers!!
Pigs in one way and out the other, it was a constant line up of pigs, black, white, red, spotted ones, and some with long tails and some with short curly tails. Some were fat, some were small I kept thinking when is my pig getting out of the gate…Finally… my pig was on deck, oh was she a cutie, black and pink with a cute curly tail! Time to bid please… bidding opens and they are bidding against me, really! Don’t these people realize that my boss told me to be the highest bidder!! Back and forth we go and the price keeps increasing. I try to call my boss to make sure that he still want’s this pig as the price increases more and more, while I am bidding and calling the auctioneer makes a joke and says ‘hold on she is calling her banker’ a laugh was heard all around, but the bidding kept on!! Boss couldn’t hear me on the phone, obviously the crowd was a little loud!! So, bidding goes on and finally they stop bidding against me and I WON!! Woohoo, I realize that I had the winning bid, and then the auctioneer announces that All Weather Seal was the winning bid at $15 per pound, and I am mentally calculating what the pounds and the cost totaled. I must have had a moment, because the auctioneer was thanking us again, and recognized us as a First Time Buyer at the Fair. Yes, my pig was a $3500 pork chop! Standing ovation at the fair, lots of congratulations and my heart was racing!
I text my boss to let him know that we got the first pig, and what the cost was. His response was “is that even possible”. LOL… Yes, totally possible because it just happened!
Back to my seat I go and wait for the last pig to come out, by this time I am thinking that there isn’t any way I am going to get this last pig, not it the one I just bid on was $15 a pound.
Finally, Ginger comes out with the entire Carousel Club, and these kids are hugging each other and many are crying. It is an emotional day for them, memories are strong on years past at this auction with their friend. These amazing kids have written a letter to the buyers and families there today, and as they are reading the letter I am crying, they are crying even harder. Every person in the building had tears in their eyes, the letter is read and the auction begins. Price starts out at $2 a pound and goes from there, I bid, and again the price increases. I stopped my bidding at $10 a pound, but the bidding didn’t end there. The bidding kept going and going, and the crowd was clapping and crying at the same time. Finally, the last bid was sounded out and the auctioneer slammed the gavel and it was announced that Ginger was sold for a whopping $71 a pound! Yes, $71 a pound, Ginger weighed in at 288#, bringing the total for this Honorary Pig to $20,448 (This pig is also being donated to the Goodwill Inn for the food pantry). There was a group of 16 people and business owners who knew that they were buying this pig, determined doesn’t even begin to describe their buying powers. This amazing group of people wrote a letter to the crowd that was read after the auction was complete (they had no doubts that Ginger would be bought by them) stating who bought this pig and why they bought it, and opened up for donations to continue on for Noelle’s college fund. The bidding numbers were flying high, money was being donated as we sat there still in awe of the purchase price of the pig. Numbers went up, they went down, and finally it was done. The last donation to the college fund had been entered, the crowd was quiet for a minute as they totaled up the amount of donations that had come, $10,000 in addition to the purchase price! Oh my! The crowd cheered, the kids in front were still crying, the buyers were still clapping and crying. A tragedy that happened to a family brought together many people and raised a large amount of money so that Noelle could attend college when she graduated. While the money doesn’t and cannot ever lessen the loss that she suffered, she will be able to attend college with a little less worry.
I am proud and honored to have been part of this, and proud to have witnessed this community come together to help this 4-H Club. I am proud to say that I am an employee of All Weather Seal West Michigan. There aren’t many employers that would say, “It doesn’t matter, this was a good thing”. Thrilled to say that the Pig we purchased will also be donated to the Goodwill Inn Food Pantry, win win for everyone!! This was by far an experience that I will never forget and one that I will talk about for years to come. J