By Mike Grant
---- — MONTGOMERY — The auctioneer’s chant will act like a siren’s song next week drawing thousands of people to the annual fall machinery, antique and horse auction at Dinky’s Auction Center in eastern Daviess County.
Motel operators say their rooms have been booked months in advance for the annual event that brings horse, equipment, machinery and antique lovers from across the nation to southwestern Indiana.
“This is a huge event for our community,” said Samantha Bobbitt with the Daviess County Visitor’s Bureau. “People come from all over, looking for that right horse.”
Before the horses though there are two days of sales of antiques, machinery and equipment. “It’s pretty fast paced,” said auctioneer Levi Graber. “Antique-wise it might be hard to imagine, but we have 5,000 to 6,000 lots. Then we have the machinery and the carriages. For someone showing up for the first time it might be a little overwhelming.”
The antique, machinery and carriage auction will run on Tuesday and Wednesday. Organizers say over the years they have seen some unique items wind up on the block. “Sometimes it’s crazy,” said Dinky’s founder John Lengacher, Jr. “We sold a postal service mud coach that dated back into the 1890’s once for $25,000.”
More unique items are expected to go for sale next week. “We have more than 20 antique engines lined up and hand corn shellers,” said Lengacher. “These are the real thing.”
The antiques and equipment are a prelude to the horse sales that begin on Wednesday and run through Thursday. At least 5,000 people from 28 states will be at the 2 day horse auction. Anywhere from 400 to 600 horses will be on the block. “We are one of the top draft horse sales in the country,” said Lengacher.
“Unless you are out there in the midst of it you don’t realize this is like the Lexington, Kentucky of draft horse sales,” said Bobbitt. “Anyone with a need for these types of horses will be here, and these huge animals give new meaning to the words impressive.”
The quality of the horse stock available at the sale is part of the draw. “The bidding numbers get really interesting when the right blood lines come up,” said Lengacher. “We’ve sold teams for $20,000 to $30,000. The largest single horse sale was $36,000.”
Most of the money being spent is by people from outside of the area and they are paying it to people who live in and around Daviess County. “The horses go for a lot money,” said Bobbitt. “What could be better for the community? This is money coming in from all over.”
The sale is an important piece of the economy for the Amish Country in eastern Daviess County. “There are about 700 Amish families in Daviess County,” said Bobbitt. “The profits from these sales help these families maintain their lifestyle. The families are very invovled with these animals. It is another income that helps them raise another generation.”
The Amish community sees another benefit from the event. “A lot of the people that come in from out of town get to see some of the work that is done around here,” said Lengacher. “They will make contacts with some of the craftsmen and will come back later and order some specific items”
The fall auction also reaches outside of the Amish community. “It’s unbelievable,” said Lengacher. “These visitors spend money at the motels, the restaurants, the gas stations. The impact is huge and good for the community.”
One additional item that keeps people coming back to the sale year after year is the hospitality. “We go all out to make the event special, and that includes the food.” said Lengacher. “The profits from those sales go back into the schools and churches in the area.
Organizers and the county have apparently worked out one area of concern. Dinky’s is located on CR 900E which is undergoing an extensive widening project. Officials say an agreement has been reached with the contractor on the project that will have the road open all the way from Cannelburg to Odon.
“There will be some special signs put up for people wanting to attend the sales,” said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Tony Wichman. “The Sherriff’s office will also have an extra presence along the road next week to help with the extra traffic.”