Dick Tracy: What the word ‘community’ really means
I’m glad I’m writing this narrative and not telling it, because every time I try it means stopping, clearing my throat and regaining some composure.
Maybe you were at the Nevada County Fair on its final day, seated in the throng of people attending the Junior Livestock Show? Then you’re nodding your head, knowing what’s coming.
For those unfamiliar with the event, it’s the culmination of a year’s work for youngsters in 4-H and FFA and “independents” who have fed, bathed, groomed and cared for a variety of market animals for auction, including rabbits, sheep, goats, hogs and steers.
Yes, they routinely do get higher-than-market prices for their animals as a way of their supporters saying, “Good job!” Some say that’s unrealistic, but no one’s obliged to pony up the extra cash. It’s just the way it is to encourage youngsters to take a look at farming as a lifestyle.
And folks dig a little deeper into their wallets when there’s a “back story” being told.
At this year’s auction there were two such stories. One young man had lost his mother just prior to the opening of the Fair. In fact, she was helping load hogs into a trailer headed for the fairgrounds when she collapsed and died after being rushed to the hospital.
The other story of note was of a girl whose family suffered a similar tragedy a few weeks before the Fair. Her mother succumbed after a long battle with cancer.
When she entered the arena the market price for a hog was 49 cents per pound. Bidding very quickly eclipsed the market rate — as a result of supporters pooling funds — and the spectators were literally screaming their approval when bidding stopped at $40 a pound.
Similarly, it sounded as if the arena walls were going to be blow out by the thunderous approval of the crowd when the young man’s hog brought $70 per pound. This was largely due to a bid by a man who was a longtime friend of the family.
Auctioneer Matt Wolter quieted the cheering throng and added a brief explanation of what had just happened, then offered: “If any of you buyers would like to get in on this — with a pledge of $200 — just raise your buyer’s cards.”
Dozens of hands — including those of my wife and her son — shot into the air, holding bidding cards.
Some participants even pledged $500 instead of the target amount. I never learned the total that was raised, but it was considerable. The donations, to be divided evenly between the two kids, came straight from people’s hearts.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is another solid reason why we should all be proud to be a member of this community.
Dick Tracy, who lives in Grass Valley, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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