Auctioneering champ sells to Greencastle crowd

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Brandon Neely, right, was back at his old stomping grounds. Jeffrey Craig, left, owner of Greencastle Livestock Market, and regular auctioneer Wesley Ware, put Neely on stage for a while at a feeder cattle sale. He is a world champion auctioneer.

Buyers and sellers were treated to a premier performance April 1 at the Greencastle Livestock Market feeder cattle auction.

Brandon Neely, 2015 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, was on the auction block displaying his award-winning talents. The Berkeley Springs, W. Va. native won his title last June at the Livestock Marketing Association annual convention.

“I had the best run, a great interview, and came out on top,” said Neely of the trade association contest.

He had been competing since 2007, and made the Top Ten several times. Now 29, he already has 14 years of chanting experience. As a child, he went to auctions with his grandfather and first sold to a crowd at age 11 at a school charity event. By 15, he was an auctioneer and the following year began buying for others. He spent time at Greencastle Livestock Market in both roles.

Owner Jeffrey Craig knew Neely, and welcomed him back Friday night. “The LMA called me. One of his duties is to travel and promote auctions.”

Neely has had a busy schedule all year, visiting LMA members and participating in industry events in many states. He and his wife Kim live in Alabama, where he is a self-employed auctioneer, calling mostly in the southeast United States.

“After this year, it could be anywhere,” he said.

Judges rated contestants on their bid calling ability, whether someone would hire them, if they were good representatives for LMA, the clarity of their chant, and voice quality. The field began at 101, and after three rounds at different venues, Neely was named number one.

He was happy to return to his roots, as his family still has their farm in Berkeley Springs. He gets back home every month or so.

“It means something to come back and see the people where I started,” he said.

Neely opened the sale at 720 Buchanan Trail E. before a crowd of 177 consignors and 200 buyers. He and regular Market auctioneer Wesley Ware determined the financial fate of 1,300 head of cattle.

The profession was meaningful to Neely.

He explained, “What I like most is seeing the smile on farmers’ faces. They put in so much effort raising great calves, and they cash in that day. They are getting their income.”

After Greencastle, he was back on the road in his 2015 customized GMC Sierra, provided for the year of his reign. He will give back the keys in June, when he attends the 2016 LMA convention in Paris, Ken.