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‘I’m going to miss this place’: Tasto Auctions holds last hay sale in Westminster

Inside Dixie Tasto’s red Grand Cherokee was a yellow sign seen from the windshield that said: “Last hay sale. Thanks for all your [support].”

Around her were pickup trucks with trailers on the back hauling in piles of hay bales, which were later stacked along the edge of the lower Gesell property next to the Carroll County Agricultural Center in Westminster.

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Tasto Auctions hosted its last hay auction Monday after Dixie Tasto said it was hard to keep going after her husband, Nevin, died in the spring. Now farmers wonder whether the auctions will continue.

Dixie Tasto said she held a meeting with her children and spoke about how they were no longer bringing in as much money from the auction as they used to. The weekly auction was also harder to run without Nevin, she said. Dixie would manage the books, and Nevin would drive the tractor and run the auction.

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“I know if he was still here it probably would continue,” she said. “Nevin didn’t give up on stuff.”

Nevin Tasto, a prominent participant in Carroll County’s agricultural community and a well-known county auctioneer and 4-H member, died May 7 at the age of 74.

Dixie Tasto noted the recent Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair in August and how the event honored Nevin with its theme of “You Betcha.” She said Nevin would have been amazed by all the people who supported him at the fair and the hay auction.

“We made so many friends,” she said. “I feel like we’re family.”

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Bryan Ashe, of Lineboro, handed Tasto a bouquet of flowers and gave her a hug Monday.

“I’m sorry to see you go,” Ashe said.

He later said he’s been going to the auctions for 14 years. He knows everyone and recalled times when he almost had heat stroke from loading hay in hot temperatures.

“Yeah, I’m going to miss this place,” he said.

Auctioneer Jim Brathuhn, right, arranges a pick up for seller Jim Sayler of Keysville at the Westminster Hay Auction Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. Monday's auction would be the final hay auction of Tasto's Auction Service, administered by Dixie Tasto, wife of the late Nevin Tasto, a longtime Carroll auctioneer who died earlier this year.
Auctioneer Jim Brathuhn, right, arranges a pick up for seller Jim Sayler of Keysville at the Westminster Hay Auction Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. Monday's auction would be the final hay auction of Tasto's Auction Service, administered by Dixie Tasto, wife of the late Nevin Tasto, a longtime Carroll auctioneer who died earlier this year. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Tasto said her husband started the auction 38 years ago. The two were both “farm kids” and noticed there was a demand for hay. Once they started, they received a variety from people all over.

When word got out about the auction, Tasto said, they would receive up to 300 piles of hay. Now, they receive between 20 to 30 piles. She said a lot of people started selling privately and some of the farmers who participated died.

Although they had a lot of people come in throughout the years, not as many participate like they used to, she said, and the quality of hay can be inconsistent.

“There comes a time when you have to say, ‘This is it for me,’ ” Tasto said. “I hate doing it, but when there’s a guy bringing you flowers, you must’ve done a half-decent job.”

After Nevin died, Tasto said longtime friend Jim Brathuhn, of Hampstead, stepped in and offered to take over the auctioneering.

Brathuhn was speaking with the other farmers Monday about what could happen with hay auctioning in the future. He said they could move it to Saturdays instead of Mondays and have two or three different auction hubs instead of one.

“I think it’s going to continue,” Brathuhn said.

Before the auction started, Tasto addressed the audience to say how much everyone meant to her.

“Nev and I appreciate everything you all have done,” she said.

A variety of hay was up for sale Monday, including 67 bales of alfalfa and 26 bales of rye straw.

One of the sellers, Kevin Eckert, of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, said he was happy with the sales he made that day. He’s been a participant since 1992 but also started selling from his barn.

“I definitely want to be here for the last sale,” Eckert said.

Suzy Armacost, Eckert’s wife, said they could have made more in Pennsylvania but brought their hay to Westminster to help Tasto “so she would have a nice sale today.”

Eckert said it’s sad the auction will end and that he looked forward to coming since he made friends with the participants. He said he will continue to sell hay privately to his regular customers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but it won’t be as convenient as the hay auction. The haul takes longer and the payment method is not as convenient, he said.

After the dozens of hay bales were auctioned off, Brathuhn said, “I’m sorry this is the last sale. I’m sure something will change down the line. But thanks for coming.”

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