this is a really interesting concept and i'd like to know more.....our county fair has always just sold auction to buyer, buyer takes possession of animal.....so where does the premium money and add-on money come from????
Our county show is not terminal, we auction each animal for a premium bonus, plus they're all eligible for add ons. So ours isn't just like sawboss', but maybe this'll give you some ideas.
Several years ago, in an effort to increase monies and get some participation from businesses that hadn't been otherwise, a group was formed - called "The Cartel". This group gets out and gathers donations by selling memberships in The Cartel. A gold membership is $1000 per year, a silver membership is $500, and a bronze is $250. Although many of the members are regular buyers anyway, it has gotten donations from many businesses and individuals who otherwise wouldn't participate. Each Cartel member recieves a nice plaque with pictures of all that years grands and reserve grands to display in their business. The Cartel also gets a percentage of the concession stand money. They buy all the grands and reserve grands every year, and a few more animals throughout the sale. I think it may vary a little each year depending on donations, but typically grand steer will bring $1800, reserve will bring $1300. Each exhibitor may sell only one animal, and the sale is for market animals only - breed champion females only will be listed for add ons if that exhibitor doesn't have a market animal in the sale.
After grand and reserve it makes very little difference where you place. Most steers will get $700 - $900 bonus through the ring, and probably $200 - $500 in add ons. The difference is where and how much business the exhibitors family does, and whether or not the exhibitor made a point of inviting the right people to the sale. In most counties, there are a fairly limited number of businesses that put most of the support into the premium sale - usually banks, feed dealers/co-ops, implement dealers, automobile dealers, insurance agencies (esp. Farm Bureau and/or Farmers Union), livestock sale barns/commision companies... They are typically the buyers, and they also contribute a large amount of add ons. More add ons tend to come from smaller and/or less directly ag related businesses.
Also similar to the bonus money Sawboss mentioned, another good thing that's been happening here is that a local business has been selling chances on something like an atv or utv, and donating the proceeds as add ons divided evenly between the exhibitors. The first year, our John Deere dealership sold chances on a gator, and did a great job with it - each exhibitor in the sale got a $340 add on from it (and that's around 120 exhibitors). The past couple of years have been atv's donated by auto dealers and motorcycle/atv dealers - they haven't gone quite as well, but we're all still learning how to make it work right. Usually tickets are distributed to the exhibitors through their 4H and FFA leaders for them to sell as well, and it takes alot of work to keep up with it all. But it can be a really good deal - I hope we get the support to keep this up.
Our premium sale is in March, so who knows what could happen between now and then, but if it were next week, I wouldn't look for it to be much different than usual - maybe add ons would be off a little, 'cause everyone's tightening their belts, but not much. As far as numbers, I don't look for them to be much different than usual. The cattle projects have always cost money to do right, and though I'm not saying everyone that shows cattle in our county is rich, by any means, I do think pretty much all of the usual feeders will find a way to keep goin'...