Submitted by Jim Swettenham, Winnipeg
For the first time in memory the Alberta contingent of livestock auctioneers has been shut out during the annual Canadian Livestock Auctioneer Championships held this year at Winnipeg Livestock Sales on Friday, May 29.
The auctioneer championships were conducted under the direction of veteran Master of Ceremonies Danny Skeels of Rimbey.
Five Ponoka auctioneers have already won at the competition and as such, are not allowed to compete again, explained Skeels. Jordie Waters, a new auctioneer, also of Ponoka, competed for his second time around but did not place.
The auctioneer championship competition was held in conjunction with the 36th annual Livestock Markets Association of Canada (LMAC).
Calvin Kuepfer of Waterloo, ON, representing the Ontario Livestock Exchange captured the 2015 crown, topping the tight field of the top 30 livestock auctioneers from across Canada. As a result of his victory, Kuepfer receives a paid entry and $1,000 from the LMAC towards expenses to compete in the International Auctioneering Championship to be held at the Calgary Stampede.
He also received a custom-made championship ring sponsored by Foothills Auctioneers Inc., Stavely and the Grand Champion Trophy Buckle donated by the Canadian Hereford Association.
Each of the 30 auction competitors received jackets donated by Canadian Satellite Auctions of Ponoka.
Contestants were judged on five criteria: clarity and voice control; chant; professionalism, confidence, calmness and mannerism; enthusiasm; and general impression.
Working for the Ponoka-based Vold, Jones, Vold Auction network out of the Cattle Capital of Canada where he is in charge of the VJV stable of auctioneers, Skeels is recognized as the LMAC “poster boy.”
He has officiated at all but one of the Canadian championships held annually since 1998 when he captured the first LMAC title and then went on to win the International Competition in Calgary.
During an interview, Skeels said the Canadian livestock industry has made great strides returning to levels comparable and exceeding levels prior to the BSE crisis.
“The Canadian cattle industry is very strong and it is a lot of fun to still be involved in the business,” he said. “The BSE crisis took its toll on the industry with many cattle producers getting out of the business. It is easy to get out but not so easy to get re-established. Good on those who weathered the storm . . . they are being well rewarded for their efforts in light of the strength of the industry right now.”
Skeels noted that VJV has been home to six Canadian champions starting with his 1998 title, followed by Don Oberg of Lacombe in 2003, Dean Edge of Rimbey in 2006, Chance Martin of Red Deer in 2009, Justin Gattey of Ponoka in 2012 and the 2014 champion Shawn Gist of Fort Saskatchewan.
“Our auctioneers combined with those from Valley Auctions in Armstrong account for 10 champions during the 18-year history of this competition,” Skeels said, noting that the competition this year was very keen.
Jim Swettenham is a former editor of Ponoka News.