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Wendy Reuer, Published February 07 2014

ND auctioneers gather in Fargo for annual convention

FARGO – It’s hard to interrupt an auctioneer.

And that isn’t just when one is rapping off the highest plea to a roomful of hopeful bidders.

When the passionate professionals’ tongues start rolling about the highs and lows of their unique vocation, they rarely pause for questions.

The roughly 101 auctioneers who are members of the North Dakota Auctioneers Association have gathered in Fargo this weekend for the group’s annual convention.

The three-day convention has welcomed auctioneers from across the state and Minnesota for more than 60 years. They learn about current nuances of the auctioneering world and crown the 2014 NDAA champion.

John Kuchera, an NDAA director, holds the 2013 title. He said 12 contestants were vying for the title Friday evening.

The contestants must auction off a number of items in front of the live audience and are then judged on their chant, poise, introduction and initial command.

Voice and style is important, but there is more than that needed in order to find success in the auction field.

“Of course, we think the chant is important,” Kuchera said. “You have to be a people person, have high character and integrity.”

Kuchera said the profession remains full of tenured professionals, but the NDAA would like to see interest in the profession from young people.

“I’m not saying there aren’t any younger auctioneers out there,” Kuchera said. “Like any organization, you can always use an infusion of youth.”

There are also few women in the association.

Each auctioneer is licensed through the state and bonded after attending specialized training.

A few auctioneers specialize in livestock auctions at sale sites; most work diversified sales and locations. Auctioneers can work the rooms of land sales, antique sales or vie for bids on the grass of an estate sale on the North Dakota countryside.

“Most of the auctioneers are pretty diversified,” auctioneer Lester Lien said.

Lien, of Harvey, N.D., is a real estate broker who will celebrate 49 years as an auctioneer April 1.

The types of items that are sold trend differently throughout the years, said Vince Bachmann of Minnesota.

Bachmann said land sales have been on a steady upward trend in North Dakota.

“Anything ag-related is in high demand,” Kuchera said.

The convention at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Suites will wrap up today with seminars, an annual meeting at 1 p.m. and an awards banquet at 6:30 p.m.

The Greater Midwest Livestock Auctioneers Contest will be at 9 a.m. today at the West Fargo Stockyard and shown on screen at M & J Brand Saloon & Steakhouse, 817 Main Ave. W. in West Fargo.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530