Big turn out for first sale at livestock market
By Karen Hall
More than 300 people turned out Saturday for the opening of Lewisburg Livestock Market on Finley Beech Road.
Snow in the forecast for West Tennessee and Kentucky prevented some sellers from bringing the cattle they promised, but business was brisk as goats changed hands at higher-than-usual prices.
"It was an unbelieveable turnout," exclaimed owner Michael Schklar. "We're very pleased. The food was sold out. The farmers were extremely happy. USDA and the state were there, and they said we were doing a great job."
All available parking space was filled, so Schklar is spending this week bulldozing and putting gravel on an additional parking area.
A total of 10 employees, all wearing red Lewisburg Livestock sweatshirts, kept things running smoothly. Auctioneer Ricky Kepley's son clerked for him, and Schklar's family handled the concession stand. The barn manager is Tim Chapman of Mt. Pleasant, and his wife was working in the office.
Schklar said he didn't sleep for two days before the opening, getting everything prepared and worrying how it would go. He admitted being "totally surprised" at how the day turned out.
"Most stockyards are slow going at the start," he said, so the big turnout Saturday shows there is plenty of demand in the area.
Kepley has been an auctioneer for 32 years. He grew up in Portland, Tenn. and is "still a Tennessean at heart," though he now lives in Franklin, Ky.
"It worked, other than the computer deal," he said, referring to delays in getting the sales processed. "We were pleased with the crowd, and with the market."
Small animals -- chickens, rabbits, and one huge turkey -- were sold at 11:30 a.m., and the large animal sale started at 1:30 p.m.
The best goats and sheep brought nearly $140 each. One farmer brought a group of young goats.
"My wife says if I bring them home, she's leaving," he said. "They're just as pretty as she was on our honeymoon."
"We gave choice out of the groups," noted Chapman, who, in addition to working in the ring, was bidding on behalf of people who couldn't be there.
Chapman said he grew up in a sale barn and it's something he really enjoys doing.
"We want it to be a sale to help the producers, too," he said. "If you don't help the farmers you won't have a market very long. We want to have a good working relationship with the public that lasts for many years to come."
Schklar originally hoped to have Lewisburg Livestock open in December, but getting all the licenses and permits took longer than he anticipated. By next week they should have something that sets them apart from most sale barns in the area: a permit allowing them to sell certified hogs.
Chapman explained this means pigs with the proper health certificates can be sold and not have to go straight to slaughter.
"They'll bring double the price," Schklar said. Chapman added there's a new processing plant in north Alabama which is looking for people to raise hogs for them, so an auction barn where healthy pigs can be bought and sold will be a big asset for the area.
The barn is open from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday to receive sale lots, and opens again at 6 a.m. Saturday.