PHOTO BY CHRISTINA McCUNE | DGKN
John and Janet Sprunger have owned the Kidron Auction the past 50 years.
A century ago, Cy Sprunger bought the Kidron Auction for $5 and worked hard to build it up, advertise the process and help others start up other auctions. Quite possibly the oldest in the state, the auction continues to meet a need 100 years later under the ownership of John and Janet Sprunger.
KIDRON John Sprunger grew up with the auction. And the Kidron Auction grew up with him.
Sprunger remembers when he was a young boy living near the local landmark at 4885 Kidron Road, he and other kids would hang out in the heart of Kidron on sale days checking out what was for sale and what was going on. This was back when John’s father, Cy, owned the auction.
One hundred years ago, when Cy Sprunger bought the auction, the auction method for livestock was a relatively new concept. Sprunger worked hard to build up his own auction, help other auctions get started, and he had to promote and advertise this new way of doing business. He was known for putting on big gala events and sales in June marking anniversary celebrations. In the 1930s and into the 1950s, Cy Sprunger hosted huge carnival-like festivities with food and entertainment on the square. In 1948, when the Kidron Auction celebrated its 25-year anniversary under Sprunger’s management, he put on a large two-day affair with state dignitaries in attendance.
His work paid off for his family and the community. Cy Sprunger owned the facility for 50 years, and John and Janet Sprunger have owned the auction the past 50 years. A century later, the Kidron Auction is going strong.
John and Janet Sprunger, who continue to live in the community and stopped in at the Kidron Auction office last week to share some old photos and interesting history of the business, aren’t planning any big galas to mark the 100-year milestone like decades past. They’re inviting employees, families and others involved with the auction over the years to a program at 11 a.m. June 15 at the Sprunger building behind the Kidron Auction during the 100th year anniversary sale. They plan to acknowledge those involved with the auction. Sprunger noted he has an employee who has been involved with the auction for about 60 years – longer than he has owned it. Photos will be on display and anyone is welcome to attend.
“We appreciate all the support the community has given us – the agricultural community and this community in general,” John Sprunger said.
A display of photos and Kidron Auction memorabilia also is available to be viewed this year at the Kidron Community Historical Society’s Kidron-Sonnenberg Heritage Center, which is open on Saturdays through the fall 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and is located next to the Kidron Auction at 13153 Emerson Road. The Heritage Society is looking for volunteers so the museum may be open longer. Admission is free and donations are appreciated.
PICTURE HAS CHANGED
“Through the years, we grew with the times,” Sprunger said.
The Sprungers have a couple black and white photos from June 1936 that show a huge crowd gathered outside. Livestock auctions were held in the Kidron area as early as 1918 by a group of local businessmen and farmers. According to kidronauction.com, the first auction took place at the Jacob Moser barn. The concept didn’t really take off. As the story goes, in 1923, the group offered the auction box to young auctioneer Cy Sprunger. He told them he didn’t have much money to invest and they made the deal over a five dollar bill. Sprunger took on the challenge of promoting the auction method for selling livestock by competitive bidding, and he got to work to grow a successful business. Did he ever.