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From the Fence Post 3/8/18

Listen. That resounding, rhythmic chant, which baffles some and excites others, can only be the sing-song crooning of an auctioneer. Ken Holzworth was initially smitten by those hypnotic notes when he worked at Sterling Livestock as a clerk, ringman and alley runner. That part-time, high school era job would lead him to a lifetime calling. 

Then just a high school junior, Holzworth found the sale barn atmosphere so enjoyable that he stayed on through college. Auctioneers Bud VanBerg, Jim Santamaso, Jim Odle, Paul C. Behr, and Randy Lamb further instilled in him a deep, abiding admiration for the long-practiced craft.

One morning in 1986, Holzworth's father, K.C. Holzworth, told him to, "Put a long sleeve shirt on. We're going to the sale today." The pair clambered into their old farm truck for a drive to Brush, Colo. When they reached their destination, rather than parking alongside other pickups towing trailers and flatbeds, K.C. gingerly maneuvered his rig right through the puzzled crowd. Stopping next to auctioneer Chuck Cumberlin, the proud dad said, "Here's my son. I want you to give him a job at this auction." Cumberlin reacted as if this was standard operating procedure and replied, "Okay, K.C., we'll give him a shot."

Holzworth was, however, only allowed to clerk. Calling bids would have to wait until the young man went through auctioneering school. In 1988, he did just that at the Missouri School of Auctioneering in Kansas City. Certificate in-hand, he returned to his spot beside Cumberlin, working for him for the next 11 years until his mentor's untimely death. After the unexpected loss of his good friend, a still-grieving Holzworth freelanced with numerous auctions.


He'd also begun a working relationship in 1994 with auto auction companies in Loveland and Denver, where he still calls bids four days a week. He seasonally joins the crew at Centennial Auctions in Fort Collins for monthly consignment sales. Additionally, he helps Jim Santamaso at Sterling Livestock Commission.


Holzworth is a community-minded man who has donated many hours at the Feeders and Friends Benefit Auction, Hospice of the Plains, Logan County Republicans, and Prairie High School FFA's annual fundraising auction. Further afield, he ventures to Tillamook, Ore., to conduct their YMCA annual fundraiser.

No auctions are as poignant to Holzworth as are the 1980s Nebraska farm sales. Skyrocketing interest rates forced many properties into foreclosure. He sadly recalls a particular sale at which he clerked prior to earning his auctioneering certificate.

A distraught woman and some of her friends, babies in tow, desperately tried to disrupt the bidding by beating on pots and pans and blocking buyers. It was her farm and contents, all her worldly possessions, that were on the block; she and her husband were about to lose everything for which they'd worked so hard. The bank would take it all. It was the worst day of her life.

But 51-year-old Holzworth pragmatically understands that auctions are held at both the best and worst of times. He tries to make auctions a positive experience for everyone involved: the sign of an experienced, conscientious professional.

All his expertise has not gone unheralded. In 1996, for example, Holzworth was named Colorado Auctioneers Association State Champion. He was the winner of CIADA's 2007 Outstanding Service Award and was named a 2007 World Automobile Auctioneers Championship Auctioneer Finalist.

The Holzworths, with help from grown sons Trenton and Carson, also run their Muddy 7 Ranch, a cow/calf operation outside Stoneham, Colo. Besides that labor-intense endeavor, and auctioneering, Holzworth serves as a lay minister and officiates at many weddings and funerals at his church, Chapel of the Plains. His sisters, who sing at the local fellowship weekly, brag about his singing ability. In fact, they frequently ask him to join them, a request he always graciously and humbly declines.

Joked Holzworth, "I'll marry you, or I'll bury you… if I don't have to sing to you!"


After 30 years of calling bids for others, the skilled auctioneer has now decided to start his own business. Holzworth's wife, Andrea, was quick to credit their good friend and associate, John Clatworthy, as the greatest motivation to get this fledgling business underway. She dubbed him their "unofficial" partner and the "wind beneath our wings".

Beginning at 10 a.m. on April 7, 2018, Holzworth Auction Company will hold its initial consignment sale at the New Raymer Fairgrounds, New Raymer, Colo. Items will be accepted from April 2 through April 6, assuring an abundance and good variety of merchandise for prospective buyers. Pre-sale preview is available online at the company's website,, or you can follow the company and upcoming auctions on its Facebook page.

Future sales will be held in various locales around the area. As Andrea poetically decreed, "We will go wherever we are needed— 'Have gavel, will travel,'".

Owning and running his own auction business is a lifelong dream come true for Holzworth. He credits God for bestowing on him the gift of auctioneering and for the people who've helped him with his career all along the way.

"We pray and hope that we will somehow bring glory to Him through it and all that we do," Andrea said.

Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at

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