Area business and community leaders put more than $85,000 into the pockets of area young people, according to numbers tabulated after the Ottawa County Fair Premium Sale.

The annual event offers the public an opportunity to place premium bids on the fair's top livestock projects - sending young 4-H and FFA members on to the Tulsa State Fair with cash for expenses.

“As always, the community has given tremendous support to the young people in our county,” said George Hubbard, president of the Ottawa County Fair Board. “We all know that times are tough, but year after year this community has stepped up and supported the premium sale.”

Bids opened Friday as Lindsey Hough led her grand champion steer into the show ring. She exited with a $5,000 pledge from the Peoria Tribe and Welch State Bank who partnered to clench the bid.

Hough was the first of 67 showmen to present their prize-winning livestock to a crowded floor of potential bidders.

No bid closed with less than a $550 pledge, according to fair officials, and 33 of the winning bids exceeded $1,000.

Also placing top bids on the fairs's grand champion and reserve champion projects were Peoria Ridge Golf Course, Buffalo Run Hotel, Leon and Phyllis McCoin, Osborn Drugs, Eastside Assembly of God Church, Bartley and Co. Auction Service, Miami Area Chamber of Commerce, Vance Ford, Buffalo Ranch - The Woodshed, Harvey's Diamonds and Gifts, attorney David Anderson, Charlie's Chicken and the Miami Animal Hospital.

Friday's event returned the sale to the Ottawa County Fairgrounds after a one-year temporary move to the Northeast Oklahoma A&M College Agricultural Center.

“It was like coming home,” Hubbard said. “Everything felt somewhat back to normal … we were in a tent, but we were where we needed to be - back at the fairgrounds.”

The brief move away from the traditional setting was forced last year as Miami recovered from a record-setting flood that devistated the fairgrounds.

The fair, however, went on as NEO, the Quapaw Tribe and the Ottawa/Peoria Cultural Center provided the venues for continuing decades of fair tradition.

Northeast Rural Electric Cooperative helped to expedite recovery in 2008 as it provided $10,000 in grant funding to purchase 84 new hog pens.

Hubbard also commended the efforts of the Miami Area Chamber of Commerce and the First National Bank who sponsor the premium sale and provide the clerk services.

“We would not have a sale if it were not for them,” Hubbard said. “They do an excellent job and they have done it for 35 years.”

In addition to the longstanding support of the community and a consistent stream of untiring fair board members, the Ottawa County Fair Premium Sale has put Sonny Booth behind an auctioneer's microphone for 33 years.

“Some don't realize that Sonny is the world's best and we are so fortunate to have someone like him in our community to lend his services and his support for the kids,” Hubbard said.

Sonny saw his own daughter, Rachel, lead a steer into the premium sale arena Friday. She was the 50th showman to enter the ring. Her project brought a $2,100 bid.

“Again, the community showed its support and truly invested in the future this community and its future leaders,” Hubbard said.

The public can continue to pledge support to premium sale participants.

Kellie Garber, employed by First National Bank in Miami, will continue to log contributions through Wednesday.

Garber said Saturday that early calculations indicate that add-on pledges logged at the close of Friday's sale could push the sale total past $90,000.

Final numbers will not be available until the last add-ons have been tallied.

To make a pledge, call Garber at 542-3371 during regular banking hours.