By Matt Reese
I have been attending the Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions for more than 20 years and auctioneer Johnny Regula has said it every year. He wants $100,000 for the Grand Champion Steer. Going into Sunday, Aug. 7, the record sale for the Grand Champion Steer at the Ohio State Fair was $85,000 from 2011. Every year Regula has said it, and every year he has come up short. The 2022 Sale, though, was different.
“I’m going to get this out the way early,” Regula said as he took the microphone after Ryleigh Egbert from Auglaize County entered the sale ring with her Grand Champion Steer. “He has won more times than he has been beaten. This is a very unique, very special calf. This young girl lost her Grandpa this year. She told Grandpa, ‘This one is for you.’ And by gosh she did it. She did it…It is time to sell him. It is going to be a tough thing to do. But I’m going to sell him. And you know what I want. I want $100,000 for this steer.”
Within moments the bid was over $100,000 and there was an audible gasp from the crowd when the bid topped $200,000. Many spectators were in tears when the final bid was announced.
“This blows my mind. This blows everybody’s mind,” Regula said. “Congratulations Ryleigh, you hold the record, and I’m sure you will for a while — $225,000, the Grand Champion Steer! I sold him!”
As shocking as the sale of the Grand Champion Steer was, even more amazing was that every sale in the 2022 installment — from the block of cheese to the Reserve Champion Steer — set a new record. By the end of the sale, generous buyers had spent an amazing $676,500 to support Ohio State Fair 4-H and FFA exhibitors.
Much of the money raise at the Sale of Champions goes to the Youth Reserve Program was developed to reward junior exhibitors participating in the Ohio State Fair. Funds for the program are made up of the dollars received over the caps that are placed on the amount exhibitors can receive from the Sale of Champions. The funds from the program are distributed among carcass contests, more than 20 scholarships, outstanding market exhibitor programs, outstanding breeding exhibitor programs, showmanship contests, skillathons, and many other 4-H and FFA activities. Before 2022, the Youth Reserve Program had collected $4,103,150 since its inception, supporting more than 44,000 youth. The 2022 amount earned for Youth Reserve Program was $588,000.