One of the area’s own has his eyes set on being named the state’s top auctioneer.
Justin Steward will be heading to Des Moines to compete against 19 other auctioneers after qualifying through the Iowa Auctioneer Association’s preliminary event back in February.
This is the fifth time Steward has qualified for the event, which he calls “a great experience.” He enjoys the state fair crowd and being able to compete with other auctioneers in the business.
“It’s great networking, it’s good business for you, (and) it’s a fun time,” he said.
One thing that he really appreciates about the event is it forces auctioneers out of their comfort zone. While the items competitors are asked to sell are easy enough, the challenge is making your mark on the panel of five professionals and doing so while a large crowd is just watching.
What adds to the difficulty is different auctioneers may have different preferences when it comes to style. The judging is also very strict, so the minor aspects of posture can really make a difference.
Steward runs his own business, Steward Auction Services, and auctions everything from produce to cattle. Having that broad background not only helps him out when it comes to the competition, but also when he’s having conversations with people outside the auction ring about items they’re looking to sell.
For the last four years, Steward has been assisting at the Junk Art Auction, which raises money for the fair and takes place during the Truck and Tractor Pull, and he said the items he auctioned off to support the fair this year were the best entries he’s seen.
Steward’s finished in the top five twice in the last four years, and this year, he’s hoping to come out on top.
“I’m just hoping it could be my year,” he said. “Either way, it’s just fun to get there.”
The Iowa State Fair Finals will be held on the Anne & Bill Riley Stage at 9 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2019. The top five finalists receive a ribbon and trophy. Cash prizes are awarded to the champion, reserve champion, first runner up, second runner up, and third runner up. The Iowa State Champion Auctioneer will take home $1,000 grand prize, presented by the association.