Ben Chadwick’s steer wasn’t originally slated to be among the animals auctioned off at the Stoughton Fair earlier this month. A tragedy changed the plans.

Chadwick had been exhibiting at the fair in the days leading up to Friday, July 2, when he was fatally injured in a car crash. The Marshall teen’s steer quickly became a rallying point for the community and a way to show their support for Chadwick’s grieving family.

Fair President Chris Quam said the fair got permission to sell the steer at the July 3 auction after news of the accident spread and thoughts turned to helping the family. Word of the sale of Chadwick’s steer made its way through fair community, which Quam described as a “tight-knit group.” So tight, in fact, that the fair made a grief counselor available to those who needed it.

As Chadwick’s sister led the steer and his brother held a photo in the sales ring, there were “zero dry eyes in the house,” Quam said. The arena was packed.

Quam, who is also a friend of the Chadwick family, introduced the steer and sale.

The steer first sold for $14 per pound, several times over market rate, to Mid-State Equipment, where Chadwick’s father is employed, Quam said. But within seconds of winning the bid, Mid-State Equipment offered the steer back for another round of bidding. The second winning bid by family friend Elizabeth Rake brought another $10 per pound.

And the remarkable twice-sold steer is still only part of the story of community support.

A group of local farmers also collected and presented $23,000 to be given to the family. Some exhibitors requested that a percentage of the sale price they got for their animals be donated to the Chadwicks as well. By the end of the day Saturday, July 3, the total raised for the Chadwick family topped $80,000, Quam said.

That total is expected to grow. The fair has continued to accept donations on behalf of the family. Quam said those donations, particularly ones that were mailed, hadn’t been counted up as of early last week. All donations received by the fair are being turned over to the family.

On July 7, the Stoughton Fair announced on Facebook establishment of a memorial fund, “Friends of Ben Chadwick,” at a local bank to serve as the primary location for any future donations. If interested in contributing to the fund, mail donations to Farmers & Merchants State Bank, c/o “Friends of Ben Chadwick,” PO Box 660, Marshall, WI 53559. Checks can be made payable to Friends of Ben Chadwick.

Pam Jahnke of the Mid-West Farm Report also announced they were teaming up with Gemplers, a Mount Horeb company specializing in gear for those working outdoors, to donate $5 from each sale of the two companies’ ongoing “Wisconsin Needs Farmers” T-shirt campaign to the Chadwick family. The online store listing for the T-shirt is at gemplers.com/pages/wifarm.

Chadwick’s funeral was held on Thursday, July 8, with visitation on July 7 and 8. The funeral and visitation were held at Marshall High School in anticipation of attendance reflective of the impact Chadwick had and the strength of local community.

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