Kevin Schow wins reserve champion at 2012 LMA World Livestock Auctioneering Championship quarterfinal

Heather Hamilton
Photo by Heather HamiltonPaxton, NE auctioneer Kevin Schow sold his way to a reserve champion finish at the LMA World Livestock Auctioneer Championship Quarterfinal Round held on Jan. 17 at Producers Livestock Marketing Association in Greeley, CO.

The third of four quarterfinal qualifying rounds for the 2012 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship was held Jan. 17 in Greeley, CO at Producers Livestock Marketing Association. Twenty-three livestock auctioneers from 12 states and one Canadian province gathered to compete for the top eight positions and securing a spot in the finals, to be held in June in Turlock, CA.

Edna, KS auctioneer Blaine Lotz was named champion at the contest. Kevin Schow from Paxton, NE garnered reserve champion honors and Russele Sleep from Bedford, IA was third runner up. Producers Livestock manager Brad Jones explained the auction market supplied over 4,000 head of quality feeders calves from some of the region’s top producers for the contest. He added that hosting the event during the National Western Stock Show, just 60 miles away, was a perfect fit for producers and contestants alike.

Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) Director of Information John McBride explained that four qualifying contests are held across the country preceding the World Championship each year. The top eight contestants from each qualifying contest go on to compete at the World contest, along with the champion from the Calgary Stampede, for a total of 32.

He added that to be eligible for the competition, contestants must be at least 18 years old, and employed and sponsored by a livestock market.

“We get asked a lot why we host this contest, and there are a number of reasons. One is it showcases the competitive livestock marketing system, and the auction method of selling, which we’re all about at the LMA. It’s also a good demonstration of the process, and we feel the auction method of marketing cattle, in front of several buyers, is the best way to get the best price. It’s nice to turn the spotlight on that system and also recognize some of the really great livestock auctioneers we’ve got in this country and Canada,” continued McBride of why the LMA has hosted the contest for the last 49 years.

Contestants are judged on clarity of chant and voice quality, bid-catching ability, and conduct of the sale. Judges also ask, “Would this auctioneer make a good spokesperson for the livestock industry?” and “Would I hire this auctioneer?”

Up for grabs at the World Championship is a $5,000 cash award, a diamond ring, a custom belt buckle, use of a pickup for a year while serving as the World Champion, and numerous other gifts.

“It has definitely changed my career. It’s been unbelievable to have that on my resume, and more importantly it has been an honor to be a spokesperson for the LMA and livestock industry, and give back to those people,” explained reigning World Champion Charly Cummings.

“More importantly to me than the actual prizes, which are great, are the guys I’ve met, and the camaraderie we’ve formed. Some of my best friends are guys I’ve competed against that wanted to beat me as bad as I wanted to beat them, and it’s definitely a huge advantage to have met them. There are also the people I’ve been able to meet and stay in contact within the livestock business. The people mean more to me than anything,” continued Cummings.

McBride agreed with Cummings that the prizes are outstanding, but the title and everything that comes with it is the biggest prize for a competitor.

“This is the World Series of their profession, and it’s really the best of the best. This is the premier contest within the livestock auctioneering profession,” he stated.

When selecting livestock auctions to host the quarterfinal and final rounds of competition, McBride said markets request to be considered, and must be LMA member barns. The LMA strives to use barns from across the country to give competitors exposure to various types of cattle over the years. This year the first qualifying round was held in Glasgow, KY on Sept. 19 and the second was in Dickinson, ND on Oct. 20. Following the Greeley contest, the last qualifying round will be in Groesbeck, TX, on March 8.

“We’ve had a close relationship with the LMA over the years, and I’ve also competed in a number of the World Auctioneer Contests. They’ve been talking quite a while about us hosting a quarterfinal round, and that’s how it came about this year,” explained Dickinson, ND Dakota Stockman’s Livestock Exchange owner Larry Schnell, who hosted the Oct. 20 contest.

“Auctioneer contests are a great day to be selling cattle because a lot of times contestants will bring people from their markets, like the owner or a couple buyers. The market is usually a little stronger that day, and most of our producers were very supportive of bringing cattle on the day of the contest,” added Schnell of how the event went.

“It was very stiff competition. We had 14 competitors, and I was a little worried that maybe one or two wouldn’t be up to par, but that was not the case at all. Every one of them was a professional, and did a great job.

“It’s exciting to have a contest at your barn, and a really good way to show and teach young auctioneers what the top guys in the profession do. At our contest, Charly Cummings sold while the judges were tallying scores, and hearing guys like him is great for a young auctioneer,” noted Schnell of the benefits to everyone involved in a contest.

“Go watch a contest. It’s absolutely phenomenal. If you’re anywhere near where a competition is being hosted, and have any interest in auctioneering, or like to listen to good auctioneers compete while selling good cattle, it’s a lot of fun to watch, and it’s exciting,” added Cummings.