Skills in selling showcased at Black Hills Stock Show SDAA Bid Calling Contest  |

Skills in selling showcased at Black Hills Stock Show SDAA Bid Calling Contest 

As the winner of the South Dakota Auctioneers Association Bid Calling Contest, Zach Ballard of Presho, SD was presented the plaque by 2021 champion Wyatt Schaak of Wall, SD. 
Ballard 2022 Bid Calling Winner

Anyone who’s been to an auction knows excitement builds as the auctioneer chant begins, and that individual shows his or her prowess in working the crowd for the best result.   

Those skills in selling the auction way will be showcased at the Bid Calling Contest at the Black Hills Stock Show. This is the ninth year for the South Dakota Auctioneers Association to highlight the talents of those in the business.  

Dawn Luckett is the executive secretary for SDAA, which organizes the event. “We expect 20 to 30 contestants,” she said. “Those competing must be a member of SDAA. There is no age limit. Each one brings three items of their own to sell in the preliminary rounds. The top five will compete by selling items provided by the Central States Fair Foundation for the final rounds. They will throw the preliminary scores out when the final round starts, with the winner determined by the vote of the five judges.” 

The contest shows off the skills of the individual as they work the room to get the best result. The more money an individual can convince the crowd to spend, the more desirable are the services of the auctioneer. Judges look for how well the person keeps the crowd active, how clear is their voice and how well they take bids. 

Luckett said many contestants sign up mid-January so she asks people to let her know if they will compete. They can call her at 605-539-9281 or 605-350-3020 or email 

This year some of the proceeds will go to the Central State Fair Foundation with the rest going to the South Dakota Auctioneers Association to help with their yearly events.   

The winner will return to be the emcee for next year’s contest. He or she will pocket $500 in cash and take home a belt buckle and plaque. The first runner-up will take home $300, and the second runner-up will get $200. Each will get a buckle and a plaque.  

Contestants come from Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. Last year was the first time a female entered the competition. 

 “This year’s winner was Zach Ballard, from Presho,” Luckett said. “He’s the auctioneer at Presho Livestock but goes all over to work with other auctioneers.” 

To start the contest, a drawing determines the order with three to five bid takers assisting as around 200 bidders react to the call to place their bids for the donated items. “The hand-made items are popular, but a wide variety of items are sold. Contestants bring items they will enjoy selling with a decent value to show how they do the numbers. When it comes down to the finals, the Foundation provides items of equal value to each contestant. The items sold have varied, from rooms for events to signed guitars from concerts. The contestants have no clue what they will sell until they get there.”  

The South Dakota Auctioneers Association has about 150 members.   

“Our membership stays about the same,” Luckett said. “There are more auctions involving real estate, as some believe that an auction offers a fair market value. And there is big money in those sales. Online auctions offer buyers a way to take part from all over the world. Those joining online have to pay a buyer’s premium, but it brings in a wide range of people. Even with online auctions, there is still a lot of work. Afterwards, purchases have to be shipped rather than the items going home with the purchaser.” 

To help their members, she said, “Our association offers continuing education at our state convention. The sessions provide information updates on laws or changes that may impact the industry, such as private sales of guns. Only those who deal with real estate have to be licensed in South Dakota. There are several schools in the region where people can learn the trade.” 

The group also sponsors a Bid Calling Contest at the South Dakota State Fair. As it’s a busy time of the year, there are fewer contestants for that. This year’s winner was Clayton Keck of St. Lawrence, SD. “We work with the SD Youth Foundation with that event, raising money for the Arvin Taylor Scholarship Fund.” 

At the state convention, they awarded three $500 scholarships from funds raised through these events. Terry Brick of Brandon is the 2022-2023 SDAA president. 

As the Black Hills Stock Show nears, Luckett said, “We encourage people to join us. It’s an outstanding event and we appreciate the support of those who come to bid on items and to cheer on those selling.”