By Sylvia Cunningham

Auctioneer John Bennett Jr. points into the crowd at the UConn Beef Auction.

Auctioneer John Bennett Jr. points into the crowd at the UConn Beef Auction. (Photo by Sylvia Cunningham/WHUS News)

When he’s not wielding his gavel, auctioneer John Bennett Jr. almost blends into the crowd of prospective buyers. Almost. Take a closer look, and you might notice, he’s probably the only person in the room sporting a tie.

Many auctioneers seek training in auction schools, but Bennett is self-taught. He learned the jargon growing up on a dairy farm:

“My dad used to go to auctions all the time, and I used to listen to different auctioneers and I picked it up and I started practicing,” Bennett said. “I lived 26 miles from here, and I’d sell a lot of stop signs – a lot of street lights – on the way to school.”

He says he does four or five auctions per year, but this is one of his favorites.

“People come to buy and they know what they want and they’re not afraid to bid,” Bennett said.

One such bidder was Lou Iacampo of Lebanon, Connecticut who has been coming to the sale for the last 10 years. He says as soon as he arrived and saw so many people, he knew there would be competition and the prices would be high.

A bidder holds up his number at the annual UConn Beef Auction. (Photo by Sylvia Cunningham/WHUS News)

“Last year we paid $1.60 and this year we paid over $2.00…so unbelievably high,” Iacampo said.

Still, for Iacampo, it was worth it because he likes to support the university.

“We love buying educated beefers from UConn,” Iacampo said.

Animal Science Department Head Steve Zinn said he was very pleased with how the day went.

“35 cents a pound more than I thought,” Zinn said. “This was excellent.”

After the auction, the owners packed their cows into trailers and brought the animals to their new homes.

“These are not going to go to slaughter tomorrow,” Zinn said. “These are going to be fed through the winter.”

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