Staged in July and January, the auction is one of the largest on the state, always drawing buyers and sellers from a wide radius around Missouri and Illinois, shopping over acres and rows of farm and construction equipment.

On a January day with weather that was more fitting for early spring with light breezes, clear sunny skies and temperatures in the low 60s, crowds of buyers flocked to the semi-annual Consignment Auction at Wheeler Auction in Paris.

Staged in July and January, the auction is one of the largest on the state, always drawing buyers and sellers from a wide radius around Missouri and Illinois, shopping over acres and rows of farm and construction equipment.

“There is no doubt that the weather made the difference for me,” said Mark Marshall of Jersey, Ill. Marshall does some part-time farming and with partners operates a resale business for construction and farm equipment. “If had been cold – really cold like January – I would have waited this one out.”

One of his business partners, Pearley Hanold, a veteran of the Wheeler Auctions, said he attends no matter what the weather.

“This is a great sale,” he said. “I’ve been here when it is 20 degrees with freezing rain.”

Hanold and Marshall came looking for bargains, but with the large crowds, he said competition to purchase was intense, making it a day for sellers. Still, by midday, the pair, along with another partner, had successfully purchased a few pieces of equipment.

“This auction is just awesome,” said Hanold. “It is well-organized and it moves quickly. Some auctions bog down because they take so long to describe what is being sold.”

In what has become the norm for twice yearly auction, pickup trucks hauling trailers with golf carts and off-road vehicles came in a steady stream on Highway 154 and U.S. Highway 24 coming into Paris on Saturday morning. The grass fields of the Wheeler site were jammed with cars and trucks, and the off-road vehicles are good for traversing the several hundred acres of equipment, laid out in neat rows.

The fast-paced event that Hanold described featured auction trucks moving up-and-down the rows of equipment, stopping every 20 or 25 feet to rapidly sell an item and then move to the next. Auctioneers rapidly barked out bids, trying to run prices high for buyer. A typical piece went within about 90 seconds.

It was also a great day for the Paris Lion’s Club. For at least 10 years, the Lion’s Club has operated a concession business selling ribeye steak sandwiches, hot dogs, homemade pies, and, in the winter time, chili.

Club member Linden Vanlandingham, who was passing out sodas to patrons, said hungry buyers started to line up early in the day for food.

“We sold our first hot dog at 8:30, and our first piece of pie about 15 minutes later,” he said.

Preparing for the day takes 30 to 40 volunteers, who set up, cook, serve, take money and clean up. The cooks were busy, preparing some 900 rib eye sandwiches, hundreds of hot dogs, dozens of cans of soda, and pies – lots of pies. More than 80 homemade pies were donated for the events. By 2 p.m., only a few slices remained.

Ronnie Mattingly, president of the Lion’s Club, said the Consignment Auction has become one the club’s most important fund-raisers of the year, helping generate some $12,000 a year for donations to Monroe County groups and to the mission of preserving eyesight.

The club was helped Saturday by volunteers from Monroe County Cancer Supporters and the Paris High School FFA.