Susquehanna County 4-H member Aiden Empet (top) shows his lamb a final time at the Junior Market Animal Sale at the PA Farm Show. The winning bid by Coterra Energy was $900. Above, Katelyn Supancik herds her market hog into the holding pin just minutes before taking the pig into the Small Arena of the PA Farm Show Complex for bidding. It was purchased by New Milford Hardware for $775.
Story and photos by Rick Hiduk
(originally published in the Susquehanna County Independent)
Susquehanna County youths did exceptionally well showing their livestock this year in Junior Market division at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which was held Jan. 7 to 15. On Jan. 11, they had an opportunity to parade the animals across the stage of the Small Arena one more time for the Junior Market Animal Sale. The event is the climax of a year during which the youths, many of them 4-H members, plan, purchase, and raise one or more lambs, goats, pigs and calves as their annual project.
Representatives of large companies and organizations and several individuals running for public office attend the event and go above and beyond to award the youths with bids that exceed the market value, which is often based on weight. This year, Coterra Energy (formerly Cabot Oil & Gas), New Milford Hardware, and America250PA purchased six lambs, a pig, and a goat raised in Susquehanna County.
“The kids are amazed at the support that they get from the different companies in our area, even at the Farm Show,” said Robert Supancik, vice president of Susquehanna County 4-H Livestock Leaders Association for the past four years. “It really helps them out to continue to do these projects.”
Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, Farm Show organizers set up a real-time online auction by which New Milford Hardware was able to participate. “The online aspect, even at the Harford Fair this year, was awesome,” said New Milford Hardware co-owner Kyle Herbert, whose daughter, Sawyer, sold a pig online at the Harford Fair to a local company. “It opens up more opportunities for the kids.”
“The online part of the auction helped more people from back home who couldn’t make the trip take part in the bidding,” Supancik related, adding that it was great to have New Milford Hardware on board.
Amanda Voll was the auction’s big winner when America250PA, the statewide organization that will coordinate the nation’s Semiquincentennial in 2026, paid $925 for her lamb. Most of the figures were in that range with Coterra also spending a total of $4,325 on lambs owned by Aiden Empet and brothers Andrew, Chris and Jack Kowalewski (above). New Milford Hardware paid $775 and $700, respectively, on a hog and a goat taken to the fair by 4-H members Katelyn Supancik and Braxton Dana (below).
Herbert noted that he and his family attended the farm show earlier in the week but didn’t have time to go back for the auction. “We typically buy at Harford Fair,” he explained. “A lot of our customer base is the youth’s parents – small farmers. It’s a cause that I feel is worthy of supporting” Herbert’s three young children participate in 4-H and are just getting into the livestock portion. Sawyer will likely be be taking a hog to the Farm Show next year.
“Coterra is proud to support the young adults who participated in this year’s livestock auction at he 106 the Farm Show,” noted Bill DesRosiers, the company’s external affairs manager. “We were impressed by the dedication, hard work, and determination these individuals demonstrated by raising and entering livestock in this year’s sale.”
With less people in attendance at the auction, Coterra partnered this year with Seneca Resources and America250PA to bid up the sale prices of the animals each other intended to buy to ensure that those participating from across Pennsylvania’s northern tier received the bids that they deserved. Between Coterra and Seneca, desRosiers estimates that 21 animals were purchased. America250PA also purchase a lamb owned by Rachel Olver of Wayne County for $700.
Of the overall Farm Show experience, Supancik said that it is important for the Susquehanna County youths to travel to larger venues where the bar is higher and they can set their sites higher. “It’s good for the kids to experience a bigger region and better showmen from throughout the state,” he stated. “It’s definitely a bigger pool to play in and a great opportunity for the kids to meet other kids from across the state.”
While individuals can and do purchase livestock at the auction for personal consumption, with a processor already lined up to receive them, the majority of the animals bought on Jan. 11 by the aforementioned companies and organizations donated the animals to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to be distributed among Pennsylvanians in need.
Cassandra Colemen (left) of America250PA was the high bidder on a lamb owned by Amanda Voll at the PA Farm Show.
Bill desRosiers of Coterra Energy congratulates Chris Kowalewski after the company bid his lamb up to $825.
A collaboration between (from left) Rob Boulware of Seneca Resources, Cassandra Colemen of America250PA and Bill desRosiers helped boost prices so that rural youths from across Pennsylvania’s northern tier got top dollar for their animals.