PALMETTO -- Alyssa Riggio stood with a radiant smile as she watched a bidding war end Saturday with an all-time record $12,000 price for her steer, Finn.
"I'm literally in shock right now," Alyssa, 18, said as she tied Finn up inside his stall. "I still can't believe it."
Seventy-seven steers were auctioned during the steer sale netting big profits for the students with 4-H Clubs and Future Farmers of America.
Palmetto law firm Kallins, Little and Delgado set a record by paying $10 a pound for Alyssa's 1,200-pound steer. The $12,000 sale price shattered the previous record of $9,450, according to David Mortimer, agriculture liaison for the Manatee County Fair.
"It was a great day at the fair," he said.
For Alyssa, a senior at Lakewood Ranch High School and member of the FFA club, it
was her last time showing at the county fair.
"It's definitely a way to go," she said.
She already has big plans for her profits from the sale.
"I'm more than grateful," Alyssa said. "This is going to help pay for my college tuition, because I plan to go out of state."
The teen plans to major in animal sciences with a minor in agricultural sciences.
"Then I plan to go to a large vet school," Alyssa.
Extra ambitious, she also wants to have a side specialty in reflexology.
Her mother came over to Finn's stall just after the record-breaking sale. She was proud of daughter, she said.
"She's very driven and passionate," Christina Riggio said. "She's very old-souled, kind of really wise for her years."
Alyssa had been showing steers a long time, she said, but grew a special bond with Finn.
"This is my 1,200-pound best friend," she said. "I'm probably in the barn more than I'm home."
She worked hard to raise Finn, especially since he wasn't kept at home. Every day she would rinse him off three times, work his hair twice and practice showmanship for 30 minutes.
Her mom voiced exactly how much dedication Alyssa has: waking up at 5 a.m. to go to the barn, going to the barn after school and going to the barn at night.
Another competitor, Caitlyn Gilbert, 11, was nervous and excited as she waited to show her steer and find out its sale price. "It was a good experience, but it was a lot of money," Caitlyn said. "The hardest part was training him."
She already had plans for her auction proceeds.
"I'm going to buy a steer for next year and then pay everyone back," Caitlyn said.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.