Creston auctioneer Tom Fry is vying for recognition as one of the world’s best fast-talking sales operators. He was one of nearly four dozen who sent videotapes to the Livestock Marketing Association, and the top 31 were chosen to send on the finals which will be held in Billings, Montana, on the 18th of June. Participants are interviewed by judges and their work representing the auctioneer’s trade is one of the criteria. But the final contest is on-the-job performance. It’ll be a live cattle auction, with a total of about 5000 cattle to sell, and each competitor will sell several “drafts” of cattle in first-round and then final competition. Fry says he came with his family to Creston five years ago from Colorado when he bought a local sale barn.He’d spent 18 years working for Centennial Livestock in Fort Collins, Colorado, so it was time to “jump in with all 4 feet.” Growing up, Fry says all he wanted to do is be an auctioneer, and he considers it a skill to help people buy and sell goods. He started working at learning the trade in high school and says contrary to popular impressions, the auctioneer doesn’t speak in a fast-paced nonsense lingo, but tries to be easy to understand. A lot of people think “faster’s better,” he says but it’s not, because whether you’re selling a 50-thousand-dollar load of cattle or a 5-dollar box of pots and pans, you have to be plain and clear, and “be a gentleman about it.”