PALMETTO -- For 14-year-old Alyssa Johnson, watching her steer Buddy go up for auction Saturday at the Manatee County Fair was bittersweet.
But as the six-year steer sale veteran points out, the sadness fades quickly.
“It’s hard, but every year it gets a little easier,” said Alyssa. “This is just something I like to do. It makes me happy and not a lot of people do it. It’s fun.”
The stands at Mosaic Arena were packed with people wanting to purchase a steer, but also support the children who have been raising the animals over the past year.
Everyone who entered a steer in the sale wrote letters to local businesses asking them to bid on their animal.
Alyssa’s letter was mainly about how she puts her earnings away in a college fund.
Buddy, weighing 1,246 pounds, went to the Aldrich family.
Debra Aldrich said the meat from the steer will feed their family for a year.
“We give some away as gifts,” said Aldrich, 46. “I think it tastes better.”
On Saturday, 59 steers were sold. Weighing a combined 34 tons, at an average of $3.06 a pound, that totaled $206,094.25 in sales, according to fair officials.
Isaiah Masengale, 12, said his only request for his steer Johnny was that it went to a family who likes meat.
“I don’t want him to go to waste,” said Isaiah.
Isaiah has been entering the sale on and off since he was 8 and said he enjoys his time tending to his animals.
And it is that dedication that drives people such as Bill Eurice, of EEE Property Inc., to be a part of sale on an annual basis.
“It’s our way to support the kids,” who was given a pot of pink flowers by Elanie Mason, 10, as a thank-you gift for purchasing her steer, Jake Owen.
Elanie has a tradition of entering steer she names after country musicians. Last year she entered Taylor Swift. Willie Nelson the year before that.
“It’s money for my college fund,” said Elanie, who added she enjoys working with the animals because she wants to prove “girls can do it, too.”
As for Eurice, he is looking forward to a New York strip, cooked medium, once he gets his meat from the steer he bought.
He said the meat he buys from the show tends to be more tender and flavorful.
Paradise Afshar, Herald staff reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024.
TODAY AT THE FAIR When and where: Noon to 7 p.m.; Manatee County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St. W., Palmetto Ticket info: $7, $6 (seniors age 55 and older), $5 (children age 6 to 12), free (children age 5 and younger) Today’s highlights: Horse show, noon, Mosaic Arena; Show-Me Safari Pig Races (final races of this year’s fair), 6:30 p.m., East Midway Walkway For more info: Call (941) 722-1639 or visit www.manateecountyfair.com.