If Sundance didn't know what ultimately lay ahead, he certainly acted as though he did.
Maybe it was the babbling auctioneer or the horde of gawking spectators that told the lamb something was askew. Or perhaps it was the sign above the arena asking, "Where's the meat?"
Either way, Sundance's owner, Angie Arnold, 14, of Reseda, had to drag and nudge him around the ring Saturday at the San Fernando Valley Fair before the grand champion 119-pound animal was sold for $22 a pound. The animal will be trucked to the slaughterhouse Monday.
"I cry when they leave," Angie said of her animals, which included two other grand champions, and first-place chickens and rabbits.
"I guess I knew I was raising them for that, so I knew it was coming. I feel bad, but at least they had a good home."
The livestock are judged on a variety of characteristics including bulk and muscularity. In addition to Sundance, Angie raised the fair's winning calf, Spuds, and first-place hog, Corky. "It's not very often that that happens," Della Frazier, an organizer of the auction, said of Angie's sweeping three of the four livestock categories. "The kid has exceptionally good animals . . . and she knows how to feed 'em and present 'em."
Money to Buy Car
The fair takes 4% of the auction revenue, and the youths who raise the animals keep the rest, Frazier said. Some of the $7,700 or so Angie garnered from selling her animals at auction will go to recoup her investment in feed and supplies. But most of it is earmarked for a new car, she said through a smile of braces-covered teeth.
Reseda might not sound like the best place to raise farm animals, but an open half-acre lot next to Angie's house has provided the room she needed, she said.
A widowed neighbor allows her to use the property to raise her calf, hog, steer, lamb and about 20 rabbits and chickens. Angie is a member of the Winnetka Grange, which is among several agricultural clubs represented at the fair.
Raising the winning animals wasn't easy.
Angie, who aspires to be a veterinarian, spent about five hours daily feeding, exercising and caring for the animals. On top of that, several competitors tried to disqualify her before the auction, arguing that she bought her animals after deadlines mandated by the fair, she said. Her receipts proved them wrong.
Angie's three champions were sold at auction for a total of $5,168 to Herbert F. (Bert) Boeckmann II and his wife, Jane, a member of the fair's governing board.
The fourth livestock category, and the only one Angie did not win, was beef. The winning 1,191-pound steer, raised by Miki Greslie, 17, of Sun Valley, was sold to a group of six bidders at $4 a pound.
One of the steer's buyers, Terry Shelton, 45, of Sunland, said his group bought the steer "to support the kids and their projects. That's what this fair is all about. A lot of kids are raising animals instead of doing drugs."