The North Royalton Homesteaders 4-H Club members are readying their projects for the 125th running of the Cuyahoga County Fair (August 9-14) and the 4-H Livestock Auction, which takes place on the last night of the fair, Saturday, August 13, at 7 p.m.
North Royalton Homesteaders 4-H Club members will have a record number of large livestock projects for sale at the 4-H Livestock Auction this year, including three steer (Black Angus), four hogs, two lambs, as well as five pens of chickens (known as ‘broilers’) and a pen of market ducks. These 4-H market projects are an opportunity for 4-H youth to develop skills and knowledge in the area of production agriculture, with the goal of bringing high-quality, healthy, consumable animals to the livestock sale.
North Royalton Homesteader member Henry Pierce, 15, raised two Black Angus steer, his first time raising market beef. “Compared to the other animals I have raised in past years – such as chickens, turkeys, and rabbits – the market beef project is an enormous responsibility. Balancing my schoolwork, extracurricular activities, friends, and my responsibility for feeding and cleaning up after them is hard,” said Pierce.
Fellow Homesteaders and brothers, Alex and Ben Hechko, are also raising steer—miniature Black Angus steer, called Aberdeens—again this year. “The responsibility that you take on when you raise these animals is hard work, but the outcome is rewarding,” said Alex. Brother Ben agrees, adding that “it is a commitment to raise a steer, but it will pay off when I take him to the fair and show the judge all that I learned,” said Ben.
Lamb is also available again this year, with Homesteader Owen Szpak raising a lamb for the first time, noting that “because I usually raise hogs and market chickens, I’ve learned a lot from this experience, including the hardest – cleaning up after them! I am excited about the fair and to see how they will do at the show,” said Szpak.
Longtime Homesteader member Natalie Fitzgerald is taking a lamb project as well, and for the first time, is raising market ducks. “One thing that I enjoy the most about my market duck project is learning about what works best for them in terms of nutrition and their overall health,” said Fitzgerald, who has raised market lambs and broilers for the last six years.
Hogs are also aplenty this year: Homesteader brothers Alex and Ben, as well as Christian and Owen Szpak are raising hogs. “This is my first year raising a market hog – I usually raise chickens – and I am learning a lot about caring for larger animals. It is a lot of work, but fun. I am excited for the fair and to see how well my hog will do at the show,” said Christian Bryk, 13.
Finally, five pens of market broilers will be available. Siblings Kayla and Ethan Kucharski are raising their market broilers in hopes of winning Grand Champion. “I’ve raised market chicken since I was 8 years old; after the first year, my parents told me I had to front the expense of next year’s project from the previous year’s sale, with the rest of the proceeds saved for school. It’s teaching me money management skills and responsibility,” said Kayla, the NR Homesteaders Club President.
The Homesteaders 4-H club, which has been in existence for over 25 years in North Royalton, is a familiar sight around town. The Club provides an animal showcase event for the public to learn about agriculture and livestock production at community-wide events, including the North Royalton Pet Carnival and the North Royalton Harvest Festival.
As members ready their market projects for sale at the 2022 4-H Livestock auction at the fair, they are thankful for the tremendous support they have received in the local community in the past years.
“We would like to thank our many buyers from last year’s (2021) 4-H Livestock Market Auction,” said Amy Gasbarre, longtime Homesteaders Club co-advisor.
“The North Royalton Homesteaders Club enjoyed the support of many longstanding backers at the 2021 sale, especially the generous purchases made by Lindsay Kostal, DVM,” owner of Greystone Veterinary Hospital, located in nearby Seven Hills. “Dr. Kostal purchased many items, including the Grand Champion lamb, the Grand Champion pen of chickens, the Grand Champion Steer, Grand Champion hog, as well as an extra hog,” said Gasbarre.
“For any community to be strong and thriving, it requires the active participation of all citizens. Supporting these 4-H kids each year at the Market Auction and the Cuyahoga County 4-H program is important to me. The program teaches kids not only about agriculture, but helps them to develop leadership, citizenship, and responsibility through their 4-H experiences. My own 4-H experience was instrumental in my interest in veterinary science – and my goal of becoming a veterinarian,” said Dr. Kostal, owner of Greystone Veterinary Hospital.
A new supporter of the livestock sale was Nigel Brayer, D.C., owner of Living Tree Center for Healing, who purchased a pen of chickens from Kayla Kucharski. Other longtime local supporters of the 4-H Market Auction, North Royalton Animal Hospital, owned by Adam Hechko, DVM, and Brecksville Kid’s Dentistry, owned by Jen Bryk Hechko, DDS, purchased a hog and market chickens and auction basket to benefit the Bruce Kucharski, Sr. scholarship fund respectively.
“The support of the local community—via their participation in and purchases at the Cuyahoga County 4-H Junior Fair Livestock Sale —is so extremely important; it recognizes the commitment these young people have made to learning about livestock production, and implementing it in their own backyards,” said Homesteaders club co-advisor Bruce Kucharski. “While most of these youth will not go on to run their own farms after they age out of 4-H programming—importantly, they become good stewards of the environment, and support local, sustainable agriculture efforts as young adults,” said Homesteaders co-advisor Kucharski.
To support these local 4-H youth in their efforts to raise high-quality livestock, please come to the Cuyahoga County 4-H Market Livestock Auction, Saturday, August 13, at 7 p.m. to bid on the many projects for sale. For more information about the auction or to obtain free tickets to the auction, please contact Tracy Fitzgerald at firstname.lastname@example.org
Submitted by Robin Peth-Pierce