Barber honored for more than 30 years calling 4-H market livestock auction
By Carol Stender
Date Modified: 09/20/2012 9:43 AM
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. —John Barber took to the Minnesota 4-H Purple Ribbon Market Livestock Auction stage at the state fair ready to call the auction as he has for more than 30 years.
But he didn't start the show. Auction committee chairman John Grass stepped forward to honor Barber for his dedication to the auction, the 4-H program and the exhibitors.
Barber was humbled by the recognition he received before several hundred 4-H'ers, their families and friends, 4-H program supporters and bidders. Giving his thanks to the crowd, Barber started in with his signature auctioneer call.
The only time in 33 years that he missed calling a purple ribbon auction was in 2007, he said. Barber had been working with round bales that year when rolled off a loader and fell on his head.
"That wasn't good," he said.
Barber knows he was lucky. He was given a second chance, he said.
Barber's love of livestock and auctioneering started in his teens. He grew up near Milroy and attended many livestock and farm sales with his father=.
Barber heard the auctioneer's chant and was awed by its cadence.
"That's what gets most people excited about auctioneering," he said.
When he was 17, Barber got what he said was a wild idea. He wanted to attend auctioneer's college. He enrolled in the World Wide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa and graduated in 1957.
He was the auctioneer at the South St. Paul stockyards for 32 years. When the purple ribbon market livestock auction started in the early 1980s, Barber lent his talents to the program.
He credits his smooth delivery to experience.
"After you get the numbers in your head, then you work on speed," Barber said. "Too many students come to the auctioneering college and they want to go 100 miles-per-hour. It's hard to learn that way. I work on clarity."
As the exhibitors brought their animals into the ring, Barber noted the hard work and congratulated each 4-H'er on a job well done. Two assistants in the ring hollered out as bidders either nodded or raised their hand.
"I enjoy working with livestock and the exhibitors," he said. "I feel that everybody should give a little something back. And this is one of the ways I can give back because the auctioneering business has given this to me."