The McPherson County 4-H Livestock Premium Auction has been held for more than 50 years, but this year's event is being organized by a newly-formed committee who are working to make the public more aware of its purpose.

Brad Smith, a member of the 4-H Livestock Premium Auction Committee for the McPherson County 4-H Fair, said the auction will be held on July 29 at the McPherson County 4-H Fairgrounds, 600 W. Woodside St.

"The biggest thing we're trying to do in the first year of taking it over is getting people to be there — whether just for the dinner or for the auction, too," Smith said.

The auction will begin at 7:30 p.m., but the public is also invited to a dinner beforehand beginning at 6 p.m. in a tent to the east of the show ring at McPherson County 4-H Fairgrounds. For $7, attendees will receive a meal comprised of meat from a whole hog donated by 4-H Livestock Premium Auction Committee member Zeke Durr, along with sides and beverages.

Smith estimated around 60 animals will be up for bid at the auction. Unlike previous years where animals were shown by species, this year's auction will show grand and reserve champions for each species first before the rest of the other animals.

A live auction for donated items such as hand-tooled leather items and a meat bundle will be held prior to the livestock auction in order to build up a fund for the 4-H Livestock Premium Auction Committee's expenses.

"What the 4-H Livestock Premium Auction is for is to show four different species of livestock — sheep, goat, cows and pigs," Smith said. "If (4-H members) show those animals in the market class, they can sell it in the auction."

In this auction, however, the buyer does not take their purchase home.

"The kids will lead their animals through the show ring ... and they'll have the opportunity to bid," Smith said.

Winning bidders — either individuals, groups of people or businesses — "buy" the animal shown in order to support the 4-H member who raised it.

"The feed that the kids buy to feed their animals is pretty expensive," Smith said. "...When these kids actually do market their animals, they lose money on them. This helps offset those costs."

Having mutual support between 4-H member families and local individuals, businesses and organizations can benefit communities for decades.

"4-H kids, as a whole, they're driven, they're responsible, they spend a lot of time with these animals and they do a lot of volunteering," Smith said. "...4-H makes kids do public speaking and gets them more comfortable in front of people. It's a very good organization."

According to a report from Tufts University's Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, children who participate in 4-H activities are four times as likely to make contributions to their communities and twice as likely to be active in civic matters.

"When these kids age out of 4-H and get to be college age," Smith said, "these are the kids who go on to do things with their lives."

The members of the 4-H Livestock Premium Auction Committee for the McPherson County 4-H Fair also include Landon Shaw, Janell Harmon, Jeff Kruse, Marci Fox, Shad Marston, Lee Burgess and Craig Galle.

For more information about the 4-H Livestock Premium Auction, call Smith at 620-755-5125.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.