SALINA — After more than four hours of competition before live and virtual bidders, Quest Flesner was judged best in Wednesday night’s Kansas Auctioneer Championship.

The 29-year-old farmer, rancher and part-time auctioneer from Hannibal, Mo., then mustered enough energy to sell one more toy tractor as the auction wound down at Salina’s Central Mall.

Dean Sparks, a collector and dealer from Clay Center, made the tractor his 19th purchase at the sale.

"Thank you so much," Flesner said repeatedly, even while rattling through the familiar chant and bid calling that defines auctions. The Kansas Auctioneer Association sponsored the contest.

"It’s been an absolute privilege to work for the KAA today," Flesner said, casting big grins inside Legacy Auction Professionals, a business just off the main entrance of Central Mall.

Josh Miller, a KAA board member from Beloit, was named the reserve champion.

The 30th annual competition was moved to Salina when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson to be canceled this year. Finals are normally held on those fairgrounds.

Legacy owners Lenny Mullin and Kevin Borger donated their auction and real estate store space for an auction of more than 200 items from two estates that included furniture, rugs, glassware, blown glass and artwork, baskets, mirrors, antiques and toys.

More than 100 people witnessed the auction in person, and 400 viewed it online in a simulcast. The auction utilized for the contest was conducted by Generations Real Estate and Auction, of Kansas City.

The winner spends a year representing the Kansas Auctioneers Association and promoting the industry. Flesner was awarded a $1,000 prize package, a plaque and a commemorative belt buckle.

This year’s lineup for the top auctioneer award began with 20 contestants in a preliminary round during the KAA convention this past January in Manhattan. Of those, 10 advanced to the Wednesday night auction, where each sold three items and were evaluated by judges. The field was then trimmed to five for the finals and the competition intensified.

The 10 contestants — six from Kansas, two from Missouri and two from Nebraska — are all working auctioneers.

Contestants were scored on presentation; chant/voice, such as clarity, speed, rhythm and voice expression; and effective auctioneering, such as article description, eye contact/scanning the audience, body language, accuracy, saying "sold" at the conclusion of an item being sold and salesmanship.