World Livestock Auctioneer Championship
Set for Montgomery June 12-16
Fast talking, high energy and sheer determination.
That is what the audience has to look forward to at this year’s World Livestock Auctioneer Championship competition.
Thirty-one semi-finalists from across the United States and Canada will converge on Montgomery June 12-16, 2013, to vie for the title of World Champion Auctioneer.
Held in conjunction with the Livestock Marketing Association’s annual convention at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel, the WLAC will be hosted by Montgomery Stockyards.
"[Montgomery Stockyards’] commitment to hosting a first-class competition and their commitment to top notch service for their producer customers made them an obvious pick [to host the WLAC]," said Kristen Parman, LMA’s vice president of membership services.
Since 1963, the WLAC has been held "to spotlight North America’s top livestock auctioneers and to salute their traditionally important role in the competitive livestock marketing process."
Semi-finalists have proven themselves in one of the three WLAC qualifying events held in Bristow, Okla.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; and Davenport, Wash.
Parman said a champion auctioneer "must obviously have a smooth chant and be able to conduct an auction, but his knowledge of the industry he will be representing is critical."
Three of the 31 semi-finalists who will be competing in Montgomery this year are from Alabama.
For Attalla native Jeff Bynum auctioneering has been a passion all of his life.
From the time he was a young boy going to the stockyards with his father, he was always fascinated by the fast-talking man in the cowboy hat.
When Bynum was just 10 years old, he told his father he would be an auctioneer when he grew up.
And since 1992, he has been true to his word.
Bynum is no stranger to the WLAC as he has been a semi-finalist every year since 2006.
Even when a competition is so close it is "heartbreaking," Bynum repeatedly picks himself up and keeps on competing.
He attributes much of this determination to the people in his life who inspire and motivate him such as 1977 World Champion Bobby Russell and 1988 World Champion Joe Don Pogue.
"Their faith in me was overwhelming and made me not give up on myself," Bynum said. "That and my faith in God have really been my motivation all along."
He sees being a world champion auctioneer as an opportunity to give back to society.
"What’s really on my heart the most … would be to visit the inner-city children," Bynum said.
Becoming a world champion would be the "fulfillment of a lifelong dream," he said.
Like Bynum, semi-finalist Billy Younkin is another competitor who is no stranger to the WLAC.
This will be the seventh year the Cecil native has been in the semi-final competition.
This year, however, is different.
This year, he will have "home-field" advantage.
Younkin remembers going to the Montgomery Stockyard with his grandfather to sell cattle when he was just 5 years old.
For Younkin, winning this year’s WLAC would be "exceptionally emotional."
"So much of my life and my time have been spent there at that facility," Younkin said. "It’d just be icing on the cake to win in Montgomery - that’s home to me."
The opportunity to represent his industry is another strong motivator for Younkin.
He said, because the industry has been so good to him, he wants to give back to it.
To get ready for the WLAC, Younkin is working to stay grounded in his craft.
"The hardest part is keeping your nerves settled," he said. "You just have to remember you’re just going out there to do what you do every day."
This is also the seventh year as a WLAC competitor for Southside resident Brandon Neely.
Neely began auctioneering at Shenandoah Valley Livestock Sales in Harrisonburg, Va., when he was just 15 years old.
When selling, his goal has always been "to stand out - that way people will remember you."
In competitions, Neely constantly reminds himself that this sale is no different than any other.
"The biggest thing [in competitions] is to just be yourself," he said. "Don’t try to be better than yourself or outdo yourself. Just act like you would if you were at a regular sale."
Neely is looking forward to the opportunity to fellowship with other auctioneers throughout the weekend’s events.
He said the competition will just be a part of a great weekend of "co-mingling."
The LMA and Montgomery Stockyards have been working for more than 2 years in preparation for this year’s event.
"This is the Super Bowl or World Series of the auction profession," Parman said. "It’s an event unlike any other you’ll ever experience."
The public will be able to attend the semi-finalists’ interview competition June 14 at 2 p.m.
The WLAC will begin June 15 at 7:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony, and the world champion will be announced at the awards reception at 6:30 p.m.
For more information about the WLAC, visit www.lmaweb.com/WLAC.
Margaret Walsh is a freelance writer from Troy.