Livestock auctions revive a landmark Rock Island business

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -

The sound of the sale barn brings back memories.

"I remember as a little kid being petrified to move because the auctioneer thought I was going to bid," recalled Shane Ryan.

As a kid, Ryan attended auctions there with his relatives.

Now 29, he's the voice to revive livestock auctions in Rock Island.

"Actually being the one to sit behind the microphone, that was a pretty big honor for me," said Ryan.

The Rock Island auction barn, 534 34th Ave., is back in business.

That's after closing more than a year ago when owner Dave Porth retired.

Ryan is providing plenty of energy to interest bidders.

"It's probably pretty exciting for him," said Brandon Jones, Jones Livestock, who now manages the facility. "He gets to be on both sides of the ring, so it makes it nice."

Ryan calls auctions all over the country these days.

This assignment really keeps his eyes peeled for bidders.

"Some people might wave their hand in the air, or they might wink at you," he said.

This third-generation New Windsor farmer is already catching the eye of longtime owner Porth.

"Some people are made to be auctioneers, and some aren't," Porth said.  "He does a helluva job."

Ryan's voice is reviving an 80-year tradition in Rock Island.

That's really important to the local farm economy.

"I know we've got to have young guys to get back in business," said Jim Brennan, 84, a farmer from Tipton, Iowa.

"Hope the younger generation can make it work," added Blake Kadel, 30, a Mercer County farmer.

Shane Ryan is already looking ahead for his four-month-old son Cole.

"Maybe if things are fortunate enough, he can be sitting on a block beside me and doing a little selling himself," Ryan said.

For now, Ryan is calling for a bright future at this local landmark in Rock Island.

"I feel right at home," he concluded.

Jones Livestock will hold cattle auctions each Monday morning.

On Saturday, April 23, it will hold a horse auction.

It will sell tack at 9 a.m, followed by horses at 2.

For more information, call the sales barn at (309) 786-3371.