Aroostook 4-H members net $66,000 at annual Baby Beef auction

11 months ago

A steer named Mudflap brought in the highest price per pound at the Northern Maine Fair’s 4-H Baby Beef Auction Saturday.

Raised by Ainsley Putnam of Presque Isle, the British white Hereford weighed 825 pounds. Buyer McCain Foods paid $7.10 per pound.

Ainsley Putnam of Presque Isle handles Mudflap, a British white Hereford steer weighing 825 pounds, during the Baby Beef Auction at the Northern Maine Fair on Aug. 5. Mudflap brought the highest price per pound at $7.10. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)


The auction has been a fair tradition for decades. Youth from the Aroostook Valley 4-H Baby Beef Club raise the animals, then show and sell them at the fair. The process instills valuable lessons like the dedication it takes to feed and care for cattle, the pride of bringing their animal to the sale, and the financial costs and value returned when they sell. 

“The skills these kids are learning stay with them,” said Lynwood Winslow, Northern Maine Fair president. “They are the agricultural leaders of tomorrow.”

Participants learn about earning money, and many use what they earn for college or put some back into next year’s steer, Winslow said.  

Longtime auctioneer Dale Folsom (front) revs up the crowd while son Matt Folsom leads bidding for the Baby Beef Auction during the Northern Maine Fair on Aug. 5. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

Father-and-son auctioneer team Dale and Matt Folsom led the bidding at the packed event, which was moved under cover due to rain. Based in Raymond, the company started more than 50 years ago in Aroostook County.

Dale, the elder Folsom, has been an institution at the Baby Beef Auction for 40-plus years, Winslow said. 

Folsom said he remembers leading the auction when Winslow had his own steer in the ring.

Samuel McCrum of Washburn holds his steer, Junior, an Angus weighing 1,150 pounds, in the ring at the Northern Maine Fair’s 2023 Aroostook Valley 4-H Baby Beef Auction. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

Despite the valuable lessons, the emotional part can hit hard. In the auction ring, Putnam gently stroked Mudflap with a show stick and talked to him. She smiled joyously when McCain Foods won the bidding war. But when it was over, there were a few tears when she and McCain representatives hugged after they posed together.

“The first one is the hardest,” someone in the audience said.

Ten club members participated this year with cattle ranging from Mudflap’s 825 pounds to others weighing more than 1,300 pounds.

The group earned a combined total of $66,166 for their work.

Isabella McCarthy of Houlton leads Reserve Champion Steer Goose, a 1,330-pound Angus, into the ring at the annual Baby Beef Auction on Aug. 5 in Presque Isle. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

In addition to Putnam, members and their steers were as follows.

Bailey McLaughlin of Limestone with Boston, an Anjou cross topping the group at 1,365 pounds, bought by the Maine Potato Board for $4.10 per pound.

Julia Pierce of Mars Hill with Payday, a Hereford weighing 1,025 pounds, bought by Bob and Kathy Davis for $4.80 per pound.

Emily Braley of Chapman with Lego, an Anjou-Shorthorn cross weighing 1,035 pounds, bought by Hemphill Farms for $4.75 a pound.

Samuel McCrum of Washburn with Junior, an Angus weighing 1,150 pounds, bought by the McCrum family for $6.20 a pound.

Olivia McCarthy of Houlton is all smiles after selling her steer, Grand Champion shorthorn Maverick, during the annual Baby Beef Auction at the Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

Isabella McCarthy of Houlton with reserve champion Goose, an Angus weighing 1,330 pounds, bought by S.W. Collins, for $5.25 a pound.

Olivia McCarthy of Houlton with grand champion Maverick, a shorthorn weighing 1,315 pounds, bought by Outlaw Towing for $7 a pound.

Austin Quimby of Hodgdon with Goliath, a shorthorn weighing 1,155 pounds, bought by Country Farms Market for $5.35 a pound.

Austin Quimby of Hodgdon stands with Goliath, a shorthorn steer weighing 1,155 pounds, during the Aroostook Valley 4-H Club’s annual Baby Beef Auction Aug. 5 at the Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

Frankie Pierce of Mars Hill with Omega, an Angus cross weighing 1,300 pounds, bought by Smith’s Farm for $6.80 a pound.

Charlie Pierce of Mars Hill with Cash, a Hereford-Shorthorn cross weighing 1,145 pounds, bought by Maine Farmers Exchange for $5.17 a pound. Due to an injury, Cash did not appear at the auction but was sold for the average price after all the purchases were totaled.

Frankie Pierce of Mars Hill, Aroostook Valley 4-H Club president, soothes her 1,300-pound Angus cross steer Omega during the annual Baby Beef Auction at the Northern Maine Fair Aug. 5. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

Frankie Pierce is this year’s Aroostook Valley Baby Beef Club president and has been part of the auction for 12 years. The process has given her a lot of memories, she said.

Though she can’t participate next year as she is now out of high school, she intends to remain involved and be there to support others, she said.

“I’ve learned there are no failures and many growing opportunities,” she said. “The Aroostook Valley Baby Beef Club is more than a club. It is a family.”