Stillwater News Press

February 9, 2014

SOLD! From the Auction Ring: It's season for charity auctions

By Gregg Pickens
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Howdy friends and neighbors! Well, we have put January in the books, and for most people in agriculture as well as the auction business January is probably not most people’s favorite month.

I like to think we are one day closer to spring. One rancher I had the pleasure of working for many years ago used to like the philosophy “when you run out of hay it must be spring.”

Well, I know for me, I’m usually ready for spring about right now. At the ranch and in the auction business, lots of folks ask me what we have coming up.

Typically, it’s not much until mid-February and things get moving faster as the days get longer and warmer temperatures arrive. However, we are called upon fairly regularly this time of year to provide our auction services to a variety of local charities, including most of the area’s 4-H and FFA booster clubs fundraisers and stock show premium sales.

As for me and my crew, we really enjoy doing these and are so glad to see young people still excited about American agriculture. Dad and I and our dear friend Bobby Priess are all products of 4-H and FFA programs. I know my life and career would be significantly different if I would not have had those opportunities and experiences.

One thing I enjoy is being able to see people gather and support these programs year after year long after their own children have graduated, plus all the generous donations from local business owners. These events typically involve a good meal and fellowship followed by the auction of 100-plus items that raise anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 for these programs. It all goes back to help these young people continue various ag projects at home that for some develop into a lifelong business or helps pay for their education.

Other charitable events involving these young people are premium sales. These auctions are usually the highlight of most county, state and national stock shows. Most are structured so the top animals from each show are run through the auction ring and sold. Most county premium sales the animals are not “sold” as such but the individual gets the money and keeps the animals. These animals usually continue on to state level shows with hopes of making the premium sale at the next level. These premium auctions generate some serious money at each level. For example, here in Payne County more than $100,000 is raised each year. At the National Western Stock show just last week, the Grand Champion steer alone brought a whopping $130,000. Now, that’s what I call support. Regardless of the level of support, isn’t it inspiring to know the next generation of leaders are active and engaged in a productive enterprise that is shaping their future?

So to all the youth, parents, grandparents, 4-H leaders and ag instructors, volunteers, business owners, generous donors and countless others that make these events a success, I want to say THANK YOU.

The reason the auction method is used for these and most fundraisers is the same reason they are successful in the business sector — auctions provide a competitive, fair and always fun buying atmosphere.

That’s all for now and I’ll see you at the auction.

Gregg Pickens is a lifetime resident of Stillwater and also a lifetime farmer/rancher and is sole owner of Pickens Auctions-Local Presence/Global Exposure. You may reach Gregg via email at or call 405-533-2600.