The Hutchinson Sale Barn

Remembering the Hutchinson, Minnesota, sale barn, which was an important part of the local economy.

| July 2018

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    The Dill & Saltzgaber auction house, “a good place to buy and sell.”
    Photo by Russell Lee; courtesy the Library of Congress
  • livestock-pens
    Livestock pens were a good place to inspect the merchandise before an auction started.
    Photo by Russell Lee; courtesy the Library of Congress
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    Livestock auction, Sikeston, Mo., May 1938. A teenage boy is tracking sales with paper and pencil. No computers. No cellphones. No T-shirts or ball caps. Only a couple of grown men without a hat.
    Photo by Russell Lee; courtesy the Library of Congress
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    View of the Hutchinson sale barn as seen from SR 15 going north out of Hutchinson.
    Photo courtesy Milferd Smith
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    East side of the Hutchinson, Minn., sale barn.
    Photo courtesy Milferd Smith
  • sale-barn-seating
    West side of the ring. Note the cushions set up for customers with permanent bid numbers.
    Photo courtesy Milferd Smith
  • Hutchinson-sale-barn
    “Big Jim” Dircks, longtime ring man at the Hutchinson sale barn.
    Photo courtesy Milferd Smith

  • barn
  • livestock-pens
  • auction
  • sale-barn
  • sale-barn
  • sale-barn-seating
  • Hutchinson-sale-barn

I guess you could say the beginning of the sale barn in Hutchinson, Minnesota, just west of Minneapolis, was the community sale held at McCloud County Fairgrounds starting in 1934. This community sale was started by Bob Funk, an auctioneer from Buffalo Lake, Minnesota, and Hutchinson farmer August Nelson.

They held sales at the fairgrounds for four years until a sale barn was built north of Hutchinson. From 1937 until June 16, 2017, sales were held there continuously. In 1940, Alfred Stegmeier joined the partnership as clerk. Later, Roy Funk became a partner.

On Jan. 1, 1955, Nelson and Stegmeier took in Everett Munson as a partner. Everett ran the sale barn until the late 1960s. He sold it to Garrett Smith, Luverne, Minnesota. Smith had just sold a sale barn in Luverne in extreme southwest Minnesota.

As a matter of habit, Smith always picked up a Sunday paper from Sioux Falls, S.D., but one Sunday the papers from Sioux Falls were sold out, so he picked up a Minneapolis Sunday Tribune. When he got home, Smith looked through the ads for businesses for sale and saw the Hutchinson Sale Barn was listed. The next day he and his wife went to Hutchinson and bought the sale barn. He owned it until 1978 or ’79, when he sold it to John Kruse.



Kruse owned the sale barn until 1986, when he sold it back to Smith. In 1994, Smith sold it to auctioneer Gary Hotovoc. He ran it from 1994 until 2008. After that, Brad Thelen leased it and ran the livestock and miscellaneous sales. Hotovoc continued to maintain the machinery and special auctions.

Meeting the needs of farm country

The sale barn was recognized as an asset to the town of Hutchinson. On sale days, especially in the early years, it drew a lot of people to town. In the summer, whole families came; in the winter, just the farmer and his wife attended sales. If they had an extra duck, goose or turkey, or a few chickens, they’d take them to the sale barn in gunnysacks or crates. Many times that extra money was given to the farmer’s wife so she could buy something for herself.