Family honored traditions set in stone made a huge hit at the Chautauqua County Fair Friday afternoon.
It was 50 years ago a father, friend, and farmer saw to create a place in which 4-H kids could be rewarded for their hard work.
Hugh Oag with a little help from his friends created the 4-H Auction, which is stronger than ever in remembrance of him.
OBSERVER Photo by Jasmine Willis
Kayla Anderson with her hog Hamela at the Chautauqua County Fair 4-H Auction.
Cassadaga Valley Vice President Jeanne Oag (back row) is among those honored at the 50th Annual 4-H Auction with a $5,000 check in memory of her father Hugh Oag.
Cassadaga Valley Vice President Jeanne Oag said her father really wanted 4-H children to be proud of their accomplishments. She showed up at the Auction to purchase a lamb.
The anniversary kicked off with a few words from Auction Coordinator Emily Reynolds and Auction Committee Member Irene Lesch.
Reynolds read off a tribute to Hugh from Linda Powell.
"4-H and Hugh Oag went hand in hand for many of us that were so fortunate to be involved in dairy cattle showing during our youth," she read. "4-H is an organization comprised of people one might refer to as 'the salt of the earth.' They are outstanding role models for young people to emulate.
"Hugh was a walking encyclopedia about showmanship and he was so anxious to share this knowledge with any eager youth interested," Reynolds continued reading. "When I learned of Hugh's death I knew I wanted to do something in his honor. I would like to encourage anyone who was touched by Hugh to keep 4-H alive in Chautauqua County. Hugh was such a part of our county fair that there is no better time to honor him for he was such an inspiration to so many, and was truly a man which one could call 'the salt of the earth.'"
Lesch welcomed the large crowd to the 50th Annual Chautauqua County 4-H Meat Animal Sale.
"This is certainly a special milestone for our 4-H program. The first meat animal sale in 1965 started with 16 baby beef; now there is 175 animals from five species," she said. "The livestock projects are really about kids and what they learn by raising animals for sale."
There were 71 hogs, nine goats, 14 chickens, 41 sheep, and 30 steers sold at this year's auction.
All animals are bought for slaughter and can't be given to family members as pets.
Jeanne said there are several processors who take the animal after the auction and slaughter them for the buyer.
Cornell University Cooperative Extension Executive Director Laurie Livingston added some 4-H members donate some of their earnings back to 4-H in order to keep it going.
Emily Winton of Sinclairville pulled in the most dough with her hog Bella selling for $22 a pound to the Wall Street Dairy in Mayville.
The child has to be at least 9 years old to be part of the program, and can continue until they are 19. Many do this for all 10 years, and volunteer afterward to stay involved.
Auctioneer Mike Peterson is one of the most well-known auctioneers of the fair. He is best known for his wooden hammer.
"Max is my nephew and he is going to Kansas State," he shouted through a microphone. "Max will never sell another hog at this fair; this is one of a kind."
Even though Livingston has only been doing this for a year, she really loves it.
"I grew up in 4-H. I grew up with agriculture," she said. "This is a huge asset of Chautauqua; showing the importance of agriculture in the county. The 4-H youth development is the largest in the world."
"This creates a positive influence in children's lives; it gets the whole family involved," Livingston continued. "The best part about 4-H is it is one of the only youth developments in the rural areas. We want to make sure 4-H is here for future generations. It is necessary for Chautauqua County."
This organization has 22 clubs in Chautauqua County, nine animal projects, 443 members, and 179 volunteers.
Assemblyman Andy Goodell made an appearance.
"The kids work all year and I like to help them. This is a great program. It teaches a lot of responsibility," he said. "It rewards them for their hard work at the end of the year."
Sheep Barn Superintendent Kathy Freeman said she did this for her daughter, who sold sheep for several years.
"I am hoping more kids will get involved," she said. "I think it is wonderful the show is going strong and the program has a lot to offer beyond the animals. I think they learn leadership. We like to encourage everyone to get involved."
4-H Building Superintendent Tina Walters noted her 4-H Club Levant Live Wires is the second oldest club in the county (77 years) and Chrowes Corners is the oldest (80 years) in the county. There were three new clubs this year - Chautauqua Fireworks, Busti Buckaroos, and Hanover Hayseeds.
"A Former 4-H member started (Hanover Hayseeds) because their club had dissolved," Walters said. "She (Shelby Sek) has 16 kids (members) and is really good with them. She spent a lot of time with the goat project."
Walters added the children get really close in here.
"I don't think they ever leave," she said. "There is a lot of history here."
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