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(Center) Will Epperly, Dunlap, Iowa, won $10,000 as the all around champion during the King of the Ring contest on Aug. 7 at Winter Livestock, Dodge City, Kansas. Pictured are, from left, are Brian Winter, Mark Winter, Epperly and Mason Winter. (Journal photo by Dave Bergmeier.)

An Iowa auctioneer says it was a dream come true to compete against highly respected peers, and the icing on the cake occurred when he won the King of the Ring, an annual event that was part of the festivities of the 85th anniversary celebration at Winter Livestock, Dodge City, Kansas.

Will Epperly, Dunlap, Iowa, topped the eight-man field to become the all-around champion and he won $10,000 on Aug. 7 as a large crowd gathered to watch auctioneers work and sell an estimated 8,500 head of cattle.

“I didn’t expect to come here and win,” he said, as he tipped his hat to the other competitors who were there. “We want to all win but we all pull together for each other.

“I have competed with all of them and they are more like friends than competitors. All of these guys were here for a reason. It’s an absolute honor to win at Winter Livestock.”

Epperly said as he watched his fellow competitors he had a great deal of admiration of the quality of cattle that was consigned. “There was a lot of good, quality cattle,” he said. “I was fortunate to sell the Stein cattle. They were a powerful set of steers.”

Epperly sells regularly at Dunlap, Iowa, and West Point, Nebraska, for the Schaben family. “I cannot say enough about my bosses who have been supportive of me.”

Epperly’s father was also supportive of his son’s desire to sell cattle. Epplerly says he strives to get top dollars for sellers and that’s a constant for him and auctioneers.

“I decided today to just go out and have fun,” he said. “My father always said if I just relaxed and took the approach of having fun, I could do something like this.”

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An estimated 8,500 head of cattle brought a large contingency of buyers and guests during the King of the Ring Contest on Aug. 7 at Winter Livestock, Dodge City, Kansas. (Journal photo by Dave Bergmeier.)

He was humbled to participate because it honored the late Roger Emigh, who also was the 1990 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship titleholder. Brian Winter, of Winter Livestock, had said Emigh was the inspiration for the contest. Emigh had a vision to bring the country’s top auctioneers to Dodge City for a King of the Ring competition at the Winter sale barn.

“Roger was one of my heroes,” Epperly said. “I’d listen to Roger’s chants and admired his style.”

During a livestock event they both attended one time it was Emigh who encouraged Epperly and told him he admired his style, too, and that he had what it takes to be a world champion. That encouragement was never lost on Epperly, who also believes it is important to give back to other auctioneers.

Jay Romine, was the reserve all-around champion, Mt. Washington, Kentucky. Romine finished second by one point, but still collected $4,000.

First runner-up was Neil Bouray, Webber, Kansas, who received $3,000 for his work. Second runner-up was Kenneth Wilcox, West Fork, Arkansas, who also earned $3,000. He was the 1990 WLAC titleholder.

Two other contestants received $750 each for winning the Col. Roger Emigh Champions Choice. They were Sixto Paiz, Portales, New Mexico, and Jacob Massey, Petersburg, Tennessee.

The contest also included a guest appearance by Chuck Bradley, the recently named 2021 LMAC titleholder from Rockford, Alabama. Bradley sold the final lots while judges were tallying the results.

“It was a dream come true and a nightmare to lose to Charly Cummings,” he quipped about his good friend and fellow auctioneer from Yates Center, Kansas, who had won the 2019 King of the Ring title, a contest Bradley placed second in that year. Cummings is also the 2011 titleholder.

Bradley also thanked the Winter family for their commitment to a transparent market process that helps sellers and buyers to get a fair price for the cattle.

“They believe in the auction style of doing business,” Bradley said.

The master of ceremonies was Dustin Focht, the 2013 WLAC titleholder from Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Also during the auction there were two other fundraisers. A belt auction raised $9,200 in combined revenue to help offset health expenses of Larry Dick, a longtime employee of Winter Livestock, and another sale generated $2,618 in combined contributions to help the Circle of Hope, a nonprofit agency that helps southwest Kansas residents and their families who face cancer.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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