Jake Keeney, 19, spent the last year and a half preparing his grand champion steer for auction, which included a daily hair care routine of roughly two and a half hours, he said.
But his emotional attachment to the 1,322-pound animal only goes so far. After all, his passion for preparing beef steers for show stems from his love for steak.
“If you aren’t willing to eat one of your own animals, then you shouldn’t be showing it,” he said.
His winning steer, “Q Tip,” would make for the best steak many have ever had, he said. This would be tough to debate, given the winning bid it received in The Great Frederick Fair Youth Livestock Auction.
Keeney’s prized cow sold for $20,000, or more than $15 per pound, at Saturday’s auction — one of the final events of the 2021 Great Frederick Fair.
Following a brief bidding war that excited the sizable crowd gathered under and around the perimeter of the auction tent, the steer went to the Krietz family, who run Krietz Auto in Frederick.
“We like to give back to the kids,” said Whitney Krietz, daughter-in-law of Krietz Auto founders Charlie and Kim Krietz and one of the dealership’s six owners. “I know how hard they work.”
The Krietz’ winning bid more than doubled the price of the grand champion steer from the 2019 fair, which sold for just over $8,500, or $6.25 per pound, according to reporting from The News-Post.
Keeney, who lives on a beef farm in Rocky Ridge, said he plans to use his winnings to invest in another cow that he plans to prepare for showings like the one he just won.
In year’s past, organizers charged a commission of up to four percent, fair manager Karen Nicklas said. But financial support from sponsors and members of the community this year accounted for the commission and allowed Keeney, and other winners, to take home every penny.
“Everything that the fair has asked for or needed, the community has said yes,” Nicklas said, later adding, “I’m not usually speechless, but these people have made me speechless.”
The September sun and clear skies on Saturday warmed the Frederick Fairgrounds and attracted the largest crowd that Keeney had seen in years.
Though, greater attendance wasn’t the only change to this year’s auction. It was held without partnership with Frederick 4-H, the youth development organization that normally pairs with fair organizers, after the two parties were unable to reach an agreement in advance of the annual event.
Administrators and participants also said the auction’s atmosphere was notably cordial and relaxed. People seemed more willing than in prior years to lend a helping hand to one another, even to their competition.
“Everyone’s having a way better time,” Keeney said.
Saturday marked Keeney’s final time participating in the auction, but he said he couldn’t have asked for a better way to go out. With a bang.