Bailey Ballou of Elgin, Okla. proved his world-class status as a livestock auctioneer at the Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA) World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) held in Turlock, Calif., on Saturday, June 16.
Raised in southwest Oklahoma on a dairy farm, Bailey attended livestock auctions with his grandpa. Like many children, he was enamored with the auction chant and would try to emulate it while at play. When he realized, as an adult, that he would like to make a career of the art of bid calling, he set out for auctioneering school in Missouri. That was in 2003.
Nine years later, he assumes the title of 2012 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion on his fourth attempt, having competed previously in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
In his acceptance speech, Bailey spoke of the auctioneers that took him under their wing and taught him the business. One of those early influences was 1974 world champion Ralph Wade, who let Bailey stay with him and worked with him as he developed his abilities and world-class chant.
Bailey is married to his junior high sweetheart, Heather, who was there as he received the WLAC title. As he travels across the U.S. and Canada this year as an ambassador for LMA and the livestock auction markets, he will be supported by Heather and their two children, Merrick, 5, and Brodey, 4.
Bailey was sponsored by Oklahoma National Stockyards, Inc., and Oklahoma City Livestock Exchange, both of Oklahoma City.
This year’s champion takes home a 2012 Silverado pickup to use during the year of his reign; $5,000 cash; a championship sculpture; world champion Gist belt buckle and a hand-tooled leather briefcase from LMA; world champion ring sponsored by Turlock Livestock Auction Yard, Inc.; the Golden Gavel Award sponsored by the World Wide College of Auctioneering; and a James Reid, Ltd. money clip sponsored by CattleUSA.com.
Also, making a great showing were the Reserve Champion Darren Carter of Ninety Six, S.C., and Runner-up Champion Brian Little of Wann, Okla.
Darren Carter was sponsored by Upstate Livestock Exchange in Williamston, South Carolina, and Wilkes County Stockyard, Inc. in Washington, Georgia. From LMA, the reserve champion received $2,000 cash, a Gist knife and reserve champion Gist belt buckle.
Brian Little was sponsored by Coffeyville Livestock Market in Coffeyville, Kan.; and Tulsa Stockyards, Inc., in Tulsa, Okla. He will take home $1,000 cash, a Gist knife and runner-up Gist belt buckle, sponsored by LMA.
The 2012 Audrey K. Banks “Rookie of the Year” Award winner is Brennin Jack of Regina, Saskatchewan. Brennin was sponsored by Heartland Livestock Services in Regina, Saskatchewan, Assiniboia Livestock Auction in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan and Weyburn Livestock Exchange in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Brennin was awarded $500 cash by LMA, in recognition of an impressive display of talent at his first WLAC competition.
The seven remaining finalists all received Gist belt buckles from LMA. Those finalists included Tye Casey of Plymouth, Ind.; Dustin Focht, Stillwater, Okla.; Brennin Jack, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Blaine Lotz, Edna, Kan.; Brandon Neely, Southside, Ala.; Paul Ramirez, Tucson, Ariz., and Russele Sleep of Bedford, Iowa. Each of the 33 semi-finalists received 1,000 Series Quill pens from LMA and 2012 WLAC jackets sponsored by the host market.
Thirty-two of the semi-finalists were selected during four quarterfinals held during the year in the U.S. As the International Auctioneer Champion is always given a “bye” to become an automatic semi-finalist, Rod Burnett qualified as the champion from Canada.
When not on the auction block at his home market, Bailey will spend his year traveling the country sharing his auctioneering skills with other livestock markets, and acting as a spokesperson for the industry. Therefore, each semi-finalist had an opportunity to establish their knowledge of the livestock marketing business, and their ability to express that knowledge with clarity, in a judged interview session held on Friday of the championship.
The auctioneering phase of the contest is held during an actual sale, with live bidders in the seats. Contestants were judged on the clarity of their auction chant; vocal quality; their ability to catch bids and conduct the sale; and finally, would the judge hire this auctioneer for their own livestock market?
Following the semi-finals, ten finalists were selected to return to the auction ring for the final round where they sold more lots of cattle, and were judged again, based on the same criteria.
The WLAC highlights the auctioneer’s crucial role in the competitive marketing of livestock. LMA hosts the contest each year to promote the auction method of selling livestock; which results in true price discovery of the value of all classes of livestock and sets the cash market for all other methods of selling.
This year’s event was hosted by Turlock Livestock Auction Yard, Inc., where attendees had the opportunity to witness a great livestock sale, an incredible auction market crew in action and the best in the business of livestock auctioneering.
2012 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion Bailey Ballou