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Lebanons 74-year-old sale barn bids adieu

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Changing times force McKee family to shut down Wilson County Livestock Market

By KEN BECKSpecial to The Wilson Post

Progress will knock another institution off of West Main Street in two weeks when the Wilson County Livestock Market, aka “the sale barn,” shutters its doors after a final cattle auction June 3.

“Expenses got more than the income. That’ll close anybody down, won’t it?” said Alvin McKee, 89, a member of the Wilson County Agricultural Hall of Fame. His sons, Bill and Carson McKee, and daughter, Wanda Bates, run the livestock market but claim their father is the guiding force behind it.

“There are just not enough cattle around in this area anymore to support the sale,” Carson said yesterday. “We used to run anywhere from 1,300 to 2,100 head back in the mid- ’80s up to the mid-’90s. It just got to where we can’t get enough cattle anymore. It cost so much to keep the doors open.”


After nearly three-quarters of a century of operation, the Wilson County Livestock Market will close the barn doors after its final cattle auction on June 3.

KEN BECK / The Wilson Post

Located between the Kroger shopping center and Rocky Road on West Main Street, the sale barn was constructed in 1950 but was begun in Lebanon in 1935 by the late businessman Jim Johnson. The McKee family has operated it for the past quarter of a century.

The Wednesday afternoon auction employed about 15. The McKees said they had been deliberating about closing for the past year and it was a hard decision.

“A lot of people depend on us to sell cattle here, but not near as many as used to be. A lot of farms been cut up for houses. People don’t raise many cattle, sheep or hogs anymore,” the elder McKee said.

Statesville’s Frank Mazurik has been selling his cattle here since 1991.

“This narrows my choices. I could go to Carthage on Saturday or Woodbury on Mondays. Cookeville‘s too far. We’ve lost our slaughterhouse. Now we’re losing the cattle barn. I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said the Wilson County farmer.

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