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Cold hands and hot items at annual spring auction

Left to right: Lucas Schultz, of Freeport, admires an old McCormick Farmall B tractor with Louis Lavan, of Dixon, and Jim Johnson, of Miles, Iowa. Complete strangers bond over the rows and rows of rich history at the annual Hazelhurst Spring Consignment Sale. Photo by Zach Arbogast
Left to right: Lucas Schultz, of Freeport, admires an old McCormick Farmall B tractor with Louis Lavan, of Dixon, and Jim Johnson, of Miles, Iowa. Complete strangers bond over the rows and rows of rich history at the annual Hazelhurst Spring Consignment Sale. Photo by Zach Arbogast

An annual spring auction came with a cold spell, but that didn’t hinder attendees from having a good time.

The annual Hazelhurst Spring Consignment Sale that came around again on April 7 at 17748 W. Milledgeville Rd., Polo, hardly felt like “spring.”

Temperatures hovered between 30 degrees from the 8:30 a.m. opening and 50 degrees by the evening close, with wind making it feel less than 20 at times.

“It looks like everyone’s smoking,” said a passerby in a group of auctioneers. It was cold enough to see your own breath most of the day.

It was a stark contrast to last year, where heavy rains left the 30-acre Hazelhurst site muddy as a swamp.

However, did the cold temperatures hurt attendance?

“If anything, it helped it,” said Sheryl Hopkins,co-owner and operator of Public Auction Service, Polo, with her husband Lyle. “The farmers can’t get out in the field with the climate the way it is, so they need something to do for the day.”

Vendors echoed Sheryl’s sentiment; when asked if the chill was hurting business for the Ogle County Beef Producers, Phil Fossler, of Polo, said “Lord, no!”

The beef producers were selling their famous ribeye steak sandwiches, among other treats, to hungry patrons browsing the sales.

“Since 20 minutes in, we’ve had a line for ribeyes, which is good for us,” said Fossler. “When it’s cold, farmers eat, and they like to eat beef.”

The beef producers weren’t the only grub stop, as the Polo Lions cook up burgers, brats, and other grilled meats every year in the main concession stand attached to the central office.

As good as the food is, though, it’s not the main attraction. Folks come from surrounding communities, and even nearby states, to see acres and acres of one man’s junk about to become another man’s treasure.

“I grew up in Oklahoma, and you had one of these sorts of things every weekend,” said Alan Harrison, of Dixon. “This is a real piece of Americana, and you just don’t see it as much anymore.”

Scattered among the Americana in question was anything from fully functioning tractors, lawn mowers, and post hole diggers, to things like the front hood off of a big rig, or the back bed from a pickup.

It also wasn’t a bad place for tires, with nearly an entire row filled.

“There’s so much here, it’s actually a good time just seeing it all,” said Lucas Schultz, of Freeport, who was looking to grab a hayrack on auction. “I waited nearly 26 minutes in line just to get a bid ticket - this place is busy.”

Hopkins expects that around 6,000 people showed up to the spring consignment auction. Not a bad turnout for winter weather in April, and for an event that’s been going strong since the 1940s.

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