Rain doesn't dampen annual Berkshire 4-H farm equipment auction

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Photo Gallery | 4-H Agricultural Equipment Auction

PITTSFIELD — On a dank May Day, Donald Raucher parleyed his rapid fire verbal skills into cold, hard cash for Berkshire County 4-H youth.

For several hours at the 4-H Fairgrounds, the auctioneer from Florence sold to the highest bidder — at a fraction of their value — farm equipment, chain saws, hand tools, even baseball, football and basketball trading cards.

Raucher made sure everything sold, occasionally ribbing those winners not bidding high enough for a good cause.

"Cheap, cheap. You fellas should be buying yourself wealthy," he said over the portable loudspeaker. "You haven't spent enough to have fun."

In all, more than 150 people participated in — dozens more watched — the sixth annual Berkshire 4-H Agricultural Equipment Auction. A portion of the proceeds benefit the 200-member organization and hundreds more enrolled in a 4-H programs conducting in schools and youth groups throughout the county, according to Berkshire 4-H Fair Inc. President Scott Robinson.

"The auction has been moderately successful, especially when the weather is good," Robinson said. "But there are many die-hards willing to come out on a day like today."

Among the auction faithful, Danner Tanner of Tanner's Farm in Clarksburg, who spent as much time watching his four-year-old son Jack splash in the puddles as survey the items up for bid.

"It's local and I like auctions and I usually get outbid," he said. "It's [a rainy] Sunday, what else is there to do?"

The auction items are on consignment, so the money goes to the previous owners, a portion of which is donated back to Berkshire 4-H.

"A lot of people will give us a share of what they receive," said Robinson.

The 4-H volunteers also conduct a raffle and have their concession stand open during the event that has raised between $1,000 and $3,000 in past years, according to Robinson.

Aside from benefiting 4-H youth, the auction allows farmers to buy good equipment they need at rock bottom prices in order to keep their operating costs down. For nearly two years, Wes Powell of The Powell Ranch in West Lebanon, N.Y. has been numerous farm equipment auctions in the region as part of a rebuilding effort. On Nov. 2014, fire destroyed Powell's barn, killing all his livestock and wipe out his equipment. The items he's bought has afforded him the chance to restock his business.

"You can't do it, otherwise," he said.

Jeff and Karen Rida of Worthington were in the market for a dump trailer and advocate for Berkshire 4-H. All four of their grown children took part in the annual Berkshire 4-H Fair, with their grandchildren on their way to maintaining that tradition.

"All three of our grand kids have calves given to them by their uncle," said Karen Rida.

While the auction helps fund Berkshire 4-H programs, the nonprofit continues raising money the capital campaign launched last June to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the local 4-H youth fair.

To date, Berkshire 4-H has received about $60,000 of the $75,000 goal toward establishing an endowment fund to ensure the organization has enough money to operate and maintain its fairgrounds and add more on-site programs.

"We're working hard to keep the grounds with great support from the community," Robinson said.

Those wishing to donate to the endowment fund can make checks payable to; Berkshire County 4-H Fair Inc., 600 Williams St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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