Best of Roseville: Best place to bid on—and win—live animals
Roseville Livestock Auction
There's no current address, phone number or website for the Roseville Livestock Auction. Hell, there's no one to confirm that's really even its name. But that doesn't stop a cultural mashup from gathering under the tin roof every first and third Sunday morning at the corner of Church and Atkinson streets in Roseville.
This speakeasy scene is a crazy one: On a recent Sunday, under an open-air structure in a parking lot just across the street from Denio’s Roseville Farmers Market & Swap Meet, about 100 people huddle around dozens of cages filled with random plumed livestock.
As I squeeze into the diverse crowd, it feels like I could easily be somewhere on one of the ancient Silk Road trading passages—perhaps a remote landlocked section somewhere between Tajikistan and Kyrgystan. Buyers use at least five discernible languages—English, Spanish, Cantonese, Hmong, Russian—to discuss among their families what kind of animal they’d like to bid on and for how much. But there might even be a few more languages unbeknownst to me echoing through such a large crowd. (Is that Arabic I hear?)
A little girl wearing a hijab attempts to pet and play with rabbits. One little boy tries to feed a chicken a piece of hay that he finds on the ground. Other kids appear scared of the many beaked animals for sale, which, on this day, include turkeys, ducks, swans, pigeons and peacocks. (Yum?)
Here’s how the bidding goes down, according to a person working the low-rent cash register (which is just a folding table with some handwritten receipts on it and a small cashbox): Employees sometimes get there as early as 5:30 a.m. to help set up. People who want to auction their livestock start filtering in soon after, with most of them registered by 8:30 a.m. The selection is only as good as what people bring on any given Sunday. And then, the auction begins at 9:30 a.m.
“We’re auctioning these pigeons right here! Three dollars. Three-fifty. Four dollars. Four-fifty. Anyone? All right, $4,” says an auctioneer. “Now, how many do you want?”
This will go on until there are no more animals to purchase, which could be noon, or even late into the afternoon, according the cashier. At the livestock auction, you come for the live food, but stay for the show. Church and Atkinson streets in Roseville.