Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
For more than 30 years, the annual Cherokee Hay Show and Sale has been helping put youths through college with the scholarship money the event raises.
This year's show kicks off tonight with a 6 p.m. barbecue dinner, followed by a live auction at 7 p.m. at the Cherokee County Exposition Center in Jacksonville.
The auction features 27 of the top hay samples tested by the Soil, Plant and Water Lab at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Samples are then ranked for quality, based on crude protein (content) and digestibility, with the testing based on the hay utilized as livestock feed, said Texas A & M University AgriLife Extension Agent Aaron Low.
The highest quality sample takes grand champion honors, the second highest, reserve grand champion, third highest, blue ribbon honors.
Even when a sample doesn't qualify as fodder for the auction, farmers still reap the benefit of gaining needed information to help improve their crops, as well as “what kind and how much supplemental feeding is needing to be added when they feed their livestock,” Low said.
“So, by entering their hay samples, they're getting the hay tested for free while helping raise scholarship money.”
Last year's auction netted about $13,000, Low said, adding that in past years, the amount has been as high as $20,000.
Funds are then used to provide scholarships to the 4H and FFA members who compete in various competitions, as well as the youths who participate in the county stock show in March.
Bidders can range from individuals and local businesses, to feed stores and fertilizer dealers, he said.
“They do it because they've got the mentality of their being able to give back to the kids through scholarships when they bid,” he said.
The hay show and sale is sponsored by the Ag Business Committee of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.