Despite pandemic, Dixie National Sale continues
JACKSON, Miss. -- The Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions began in 1970 to encourage young people to pursue livestock projects and has been the culmination of the Dixie National Junior Round-Up ever since.
That annual tradition not only continued uninterrupted this year through the COVID-19 pandemic, but the number of animals shown during the week was actually up 3% from last year with 2,292 head of livestock.
The 52nd consecutive sale was held Feb. 11. Throughout the week, 1,593 4-H and FFA members participated in the round-up. Forty-five animals advanced to the sale as champion market animals. This year, the total sale amount generated since the event’s inception eclipsed $8 million.
“Every participant we had this week exhibited more than just their animals,” said Mississippi State University Extension 4-H livestock specialist Dean Jousan. “They showed an ability to clear even more hurdles than in a normal year just to make it to the round-up. Everyone involved, from the parents and event staff to exhibitors of animals featured in the sale, deserves praise.”
The sale’s committee launched a scholarship program in 1993. This year, 38 scholarships for 4-H and FFA high school seniors, premier exhibitors and exhibitors of supreme champion livestock scholarships totaling $60,000 in support were awarded. The total amount of scholarship funding awarded surpassed $1 million this year.
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson said the decision to hold the event despite unusual circumstances was made with these young people in mind.
“This year has been probably the most challenging to have this event, but we made the decision working together as a team months ago that we will have the Dixie National Livestock Show no matter what, and we’ve successfully done that,” Gipson said. “I got to sit down and visit with so many exhibitors who are graduating this year and would not have been eligible to come back next year. If we had not had this event, these scholarships would not have happened. If we had not had this event, these young people would not have been able to show the animals they raised and cared for all this time.”
This year’s sale included 45 champion market animals, including 16 hogs, 10 goats, 10 lambs and nine steers. The preliminary total sale was $390,925, which is the second largest total on record. Sale proceeds for hogs reached $132,500; steers, $93,000; goats, $78,675; and lambs, $85,250.
MSU Extension sends faculty and staff to assist with the event each year.
“We’re proud of this event’s legacy, but, more importantly, we’re honoring these students here today who made the Sale of Champions, the scholarship winners and also all the exhibitors that were here this week,” said Extension Director Gary Jackson. “It’s extraordinary to be able to put this event on during a pandemic, and we’re proud of our young people for using best safety practices like face coverings and social distancing and taking all that into consideration while getting this done.”
This year’s round-up also marked the first hosted at the new Mississippi Trade Mart. Opened in 2020 for the Mississippi State Fair, the $30 million, 110,000-square-foot facility features 63,000 square feet of column-free space that can be divided into three trade halls that connect to a 26,000-square-foot arena floor. The new building also has a covered space for outside events and opens into a new plaza shared with the Mississippi Coliseum.