Calgary — Ross Annett was the first to register for this year’s International Livestock Auctioneer Championships. But he wasn’t looking to crush the competition in front of the crowd at the Calgary Stampede.
Instead, the auctioneer from Brooks, Alta. is dedicated to elevating his game by going up against the top talkers from around the globe and soaking in their style.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice, or a world champion: if you don’t continue to expand your knowledge base, you slide backward,” said the 72-year-old Annett. “With the Stampede competition, you meet new auctioneers and you evolve. You improve yourself because you are competing against some of the best guys in the world.”
Dean Edge proved that point on Saturday afternoon at the Agrium Western Event Centre as he talked his way into the top spot at the International Livestock Auctioneer Championship. The auctioneer from Rimbey, Alta. took home a cheque for $10,000 and a Champion belt buckle after impressing the judges with his selling skills on a black box item and four head of cattle, one of them a distinctive longhorn.
“I decided I was going to change it up a bit. He is a trophy. I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to sell him by the pound; I’m going to sell him by the dollar.’ His head is worth more than his meat is,” Edge said of the 1,815-pound steer that went for $2,600. “It’s like I said, you can put him on your wall or on your Cadillac.”
The 37-year-old father of three is a familiar face at the Stampede: in addition to appearing regularly at the International Livestock Auctioneer Championships, Edge has competed six times in tie-down roping at the rodeo.
“In the rodeo, you react more to what happens. Here, you also have to react to how the cattle are and how the buyers are, but I can build my game plan a bit better in the auction. I have very good relations with the buyers and that helps a lot, and I know cattle pretty well, too,” said Edge, who is the sales manager at Vold Jones Vold Auction in Rimbey. He also sells in Ponoka and across Alberta.
A field of 24 competitors from Canada, the United States, South Africa and Australia went through a preliminary round Friday at the Calgary Stockyards in Strathmore, Alta. On Saturday, the 10 finalists put on the patter before a five-judge panel in the Agrium Western Event Centre. They were judged on a variety of criteria, from spotting bids to livestock knowledge to rhythm and timing.
Reserve champion Trev Moravec of Schuyler, Neb. received $2,000 and a Stampede buckle, while Australia’s Lincoln McKinlay took Rookie of the Year, which comes with a custom belt buckle.
“We want to get better so when the producers bring their cattle in we get them the most for them. When I get come to these, I get better. I sure wasn’t like this the first time I came,” said Edge, who has been auctioneering for 18 years.
Annett echoed that self-improvement sentiment. He didn’t always approach competing at the Stampede so positively, though. At first, Annett was frustrated when he didn’t take home the coveted belt buckle despite his rapid-fire delivery.
“Every auctioneer goes in there thinking they’re going to take it. Well, guess what? There are 30 guys and only one is going to win. It’s very common to get a chip on your shoulder. I went through that phase as well. When you do that, you lose. But if you go into it saying, ‘Win, lose or draw, I am going to come away from this learning something,’ from then on you begin to win every time. The long game is to become the best auctioneer you can be.”
For 43 years, Annett has honed his auctioneering skills with Bow Slope Shipping Association in Brooks, in addition to having his own businesses, Annett Auction Service and T-Down Trailer Service. Entering competitions keeps the 2004 Canadian Champion sharp and exposes him to a variety of auctioneers, which influences his work. He’s transitioned to more of a rhythm style in his auctioneering, rather than the fast and smooth patter he used to employ.
“In the U.S., they look at it a bit differently than we do. To them, it’s a craft, it’s entertaining. And they have to be at their best every single performance, every time they go to the stand, because they have somebody waiting behind them to take their job,” explained Annett, who wasn’t among the top 10 finalists this year. “Competing against these fellows and watching their technique is a way to become a better auctioneer yourself. And it all boils down to doing a better job for our sellers.”
For full results from the Calgary Stampede’s International Livestock Auctioneer Championships, please visit calgarystampede.com
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