Auction Bid Calling Champ Returns to Farm Show as Contest Judge

Members of the Burke family who attended the PA farm Show and the Pennsylvania Bid Calling Contest included (from left) Brian and Pam Burke, Jerry and Gail Burke, Julie Spadine (holding Brian Burke III), and Brian Burke II.

Story and Photos by Rick Hiduk

(originally published in the Rocket-Courier)

Four generations of the Burke family from Meshoppen traveled to Harrisburg on Jan. 10 for the 2024 Annual Conference of the Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association (PAA) and the annual PAA Bid Calling Contest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Brian Burke II of Brian Burke Auction Services was the grand champion of the 2023 contest, which graduated him to the judges panel.

The PPA Conference is a four-day event that was held at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey from Jan. 9 to 12. On Jan. 10, Burke helped conduct a bid calling workshop, coaching newer auctioneers on the proper speed, rhythm, clarity, and more. At the Farm Show Complex later that evening, Burke noted that several of the 23 contestants in the PAA contest had also participated in the seminar earlier in the day.

The panel consisted of eight judges, including seven past winners of the PAA Bid Calling Contest and National Auction Association president Lance Walker from Tennessee. The PAA judges spanned the decades, with Brian Burke II being the most recent winner to Brent Souder of Hatfield, who won the contest in 2003. Panelists and other audience members chatting beforehand agreed that there was a lot of talent in the room, including previous contestants ready to take to the stage again.

I think it’s going to be a good competition,” Burke suggested. “There’s some people here who are very good. It’s going to be tight.”

The emcee of the program was 1992 grand champion Sherman Hostetter of Pittsburgh who, along with 2005 PAA president Harry Bachman and PA Farm Show executive director Sharon Meyers, welcomed those in attendance before explaining how the contest would proceed. The first round was a warm-up, with each contestant pitching an item that they had brought with them and was familiar. It was not judged.

The next two rounds also involved the bid calling for and sale of items familiar to the contestants, most of whom were from southern Pennsylvania, the exception being one contestant each from Ohio and New Jersey. Judges scored the men and women on four key criteria: presentation, voice control, clarity, and salesmanship.

After the first three round, the judges whittled down the 23 contestants to a final ten who moved on to a final round of calling bids for random items of which the finalists had no prior knowledge.

Most of the proceeds from the PAA Bid Calling Contest go to the PA Farm Show with a portion reserved for scholarships for college-bound Pennsylvania students, which are nearing $1.9 million from the PAA since the initiative was started.

In the end, Shawn Carbaugh of Spring Grove was named Grand Champion, with Nick Hummer of Manheim close behind in second place. Kylie Hostetter of Beaver Falls was named Top Female.

When we got to the finals, there were four or five people who were all with in a point or a point and a half of each other out of 100 points. They were neck and neck,” Burke noted. “Shawn has competed a bunch of times and has gotten a little better each year, and this was his year. He brought a lot of energy and had the crowd engaged. I knew that he was going to be a contender again this year.” Carbaugh will ascend to the judge’s panel in 2025.

As for Hostetter, Burke said, “She did a great job. She’s strong. She’s been around the auction competitions for awhile and has competed at the national and international level. She also comes from a third- or fourth-generation auction family.”

As a team, Burke and Hummer won the World Automobile Auctioneers Championship in Charleston, WV in May 2023, where Burke finished ninth in the individual division. The duo will give it another shot in April when the World Championship is held in Indianapolis, IN.

Brian Burke II (left) sits with fellow judges and past PAA Bid Calling Contest champions Brian Oberholzer, Ben Svonavec, and Joshua Mayhugh prior to the start of this year’s contest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex on Jan. 10.

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