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Sale of Champions breaks $7M mark
JACKSON, Miss. -- The Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions began in 1969 as a conversation between two Mississippi State University livestock specialists dedicated to building better youth through livestock programs.
Duane Tucker, then a 4-H livestock specialist and later associate director of the MSU Extension Service, approached R.O. Buckley, another livestock specialist and executive vice president of the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association, with the idea of forming a committee with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce to organize the event.
On Feb. 7, the Dixie National Sale observed its golden anniversary and passed the $7 million mark in total generated sales during its 50-year run. This year’s edition produced a preliminary sale total of $382,775, breaking the previous record.
2019 Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson, Mississippi, Feb. 7, 2019.
The annual event provides exhibitors like Forrest County 4-H’ers Julia and Ruslan Saucier an opportunity to compete against peer exhibitors who are showing the best animals in the state. The siblings had three steers advance from the Dixie National Junior Round-Up earlier in the week to the sale.
“It takes a lot of time and effort to raise a competitive animal. You don’t just walk in with one,” Julia Saucier said. “You’ve got to work on their feet and make sure they’re not scared of noises. You’ve got to get them used to you. You really have to work with them every day.”
While Julia Saucier had competed in the Junior Round-Up before and had a steer in a previous sale, this year was her brother’s first appearance.
“I’ve had a great first experience here, and it felt really good to make it to the sale,” Ruslan Saucier said. “We show at a lot of places, but I enjoy the competition we have here, and I think this is a top-class show.”
Dean Jousan, MSU Extension 4-H livestock specialist, said 1,635 4-H and FFA members competed in the Junior Round-Up throughout the week. They exhibited 2,263 head of livestock.
“You typically see a few exhibitors with two animals in the sale each year, but three is more of a feat, especially in one species. The Sauciers’ success is a product of an entire year of feeding, raising and training their animals for competition,” Jousan said. “While the sale features the champions from the Dixie National Junior Round-Up, everyone who advances here is a winner and deserves praise for their dedication and hard work.”
The sale included 45 champion market animals, including 15 hogs, 10 steers, 10 lambs and 10 goats. Preliminary total proceeds for hogs reached $116,675; steers, $104,450; goats, $86,600; and lambs, $75,050.
MSU Extension Director Gary Jackson expressed his appreciation for the team effort among all the organizations and agencies that help make the event possible.
“It takes all of us to be able to have this livestock show and to celebrate it at the end with the annual Sale of Junior Champions. When I think about the Dixie National Junior Round-Up, I think about all the groups who come together to do this -- the volunteers, the Extension 4-H agents and FFA advisors -- who have brought their young people here,” Jackson said. “We also have many businesses and industries who strongly support this event. At the end of the day, these people are supporting our youth. That’s what this is really about.”
A program associated with the sale has awarded $832,700 in scholarship money to 4-H and FFA members since it began in 1993. This year, it will award a total of $58,500 in scholarships. This amount includes six $2,000 scholarships to six premier exhibitors, six $1,500 scholarships to exhibitors of supreme champion livestock and 25 $1,500 scholarships to high school seniors.