TULARE, Calif. — Russele Sleep, of Bedford, Iowa, was named World Champion Livestock Auctioneer at the Livestock Marketing Association’s annual contest .
Sleep walked away with a check for $6,000, a custom rifle, a hand-tooled leather briefcase, a custom ruby and diamond World Livestock Auctioneer Champion’s ring donated by the Tulare Sales Yard, a custom engraved microphone, a World Champion’s belt buckle, a 2020 Chevy Silverado pickup to be used for a year and a silver money clip representative of the money an auctioneer struggles to put in the producers’ pocket through the competitive bidding at an auction.
“I’m speechless. I started coming to these in 2009, two days after my daughter was born, and came and competed and had a great time,” said Sleep. “This is a dream come true. I spend five or six days a week on the road as an auctioneer and that’s how I feed my family.”
David and Tina Macedo, owners and operators of the Tulare Sales Yard, hosted the event June 6-8.
“We just wanted to make sure contestants had a fair shake and make it more about the contestants than the Tulare Sales Yard,” said David Macedo, who is also the 2006 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion.
Jim Settle, of Arroyo Grande, Calif., was competing for the first time and hopes to be back in 2020.
“It was just a great group of 30 guys to compete with. Top professionals and the first time you get up there you have to get used to the contest itself. It’s a little different from selling in your home ring. Getting used to the contest is a big part of competing,” Settle said.
In third place was Will Epperly of Dunlap, Iowa, and receiving reserve champion honors was Chuck Bradley of Rockford, Ala.
“That was just plain fun. I’ve been in the finals six times and I have not had more fun selling cattle than I just did,” said Epperly after his finals appearance.
“This contest this year has been one of the toughest.The new scoring criteria that we have has made it more advanced and made it tighter and it is more competitive than in the past. I have to say that I would hire any one of these guys to come work my sale in Iowa and I know my customers would enjoy listening to them and I know the product we would put in front of them they would get the top dollar for,” added Epperly.
Contestants were required to be sponsored by at least one regularly selling livestock auction and had to compete in one of three regional qualifying contests to be considered for the finals. At the finals competition they competed in an interview in front of five judges and a live audience. They were scored on their presentation as well as their ability to answer questions about the industry.
They also competed selling a minimum of eight drafts of livestock during a live sale, also judged by five judges. The competitors were scored on presentation, chant, execution of sale, and how likely the judge would hire the auctioneer.
Also recognized at the awards ceremony were Dean Edge of Rimbey, Alberta, Canada, for the highest scoring interview. The Audrey K. Banks Rookie Award went to Ryan Konynenbelt of Fort Macleod, Alberta.
The 2018 World Champion Livestock Auctioneer Jared Miller thanked the LMA for all of the experiences he had this past year and he recognized the producers and buyers of the industry.
“There is no other industry that I would rather be a part of. The livestock marketing industry, the agricultural industry, and especially the livestock industry. Throughout the past year I’ve gotten to travel across the country and I’ve got to meet some of the greatest people along the way. Our farmers and ranchers, these folks put countless hours in making sure their livestock is taken care of. It doesn’t matter the circumstances.They are the most underappreciated folks in the world,” said Miller.
The Livestock Marketing Association has sponsored the competition for the past 56 years. LMA is North America’s largest membership organization dedicated to supporting, representing and communications with and for the entire livestock marketing sector.
The 2020 Livestock Marketing Association World Livestock Auctioneer Champion competition will take place next June at the Dickson Regional Livestock Center, Dickson, Tenn., and will be hosted by Jeff Riley and family.