MOUNT VERNON — When the 2011 Christmas Parade makes its way into downtown Mount Vernon, leading the way as grand marshal will be local auctioneer John “Red” Shaw.
“When they called me, my first thought was ‘They’ve got the wrong telephone number,” a humble Shaw told the News. “But it’s quite an honor. Knox County and the surrounding counties have been awful good to me. I’ve worked with some really good people. It could only happen in America that an old country boy could have that kind of honor.”
Shaw was born and grew up in Newcomerstown, and relocated to Knox County in 1971. Shaw met Bill Courtright while showing cattle at various shows and went to work for him at Producers Livestock, where he worked for 29 years. It was working at the sale auctions that really peaked his interest in auctioneering.
“It always fascinated me,” said Shaw. “I had shown cattle and went to a lot of sales ... and I just thought this is what I wanted to do.”
He began his auctioneering apprenticeship with Ed Lake of Sunbury before coming to Knox County, where he has been an auctioneer for the past 45 years. It was the support of his wife, Betty, that not only made him a better auctioneer, but a successful one.
“Betty has been a big help to me in the auction business,” said Shaw. “She does all the cashiering work, she writes all the checks, she does everything.”
The selection of Shaw to lead the parade was an easy one for parade organizers.
“Red is really an icon in our community,” said News Publisher Kay Culbertson. “He is well known all over Knox County and is liked and admired by many.”
Culbertson credited Shaw’s popularity to his genuine spirit, his generosity and his volunteer work with charities and auctions over the past several decades.
While the Shaws love the interaction they get with people in the world of auctions, the couple has a profound affection for horses and horse racing. They currently own 27 race horses.
“We’ve been awful lucky. Our first horse was a pretty good one. If it had been a bad one, I would probably have gotten out and quit,” laughed Shaw. He currently competes in races in numerous places across the country, and also keeps mares and raises horses from colts.
Shaw also has a heart for volunteering. He has donated his time as auctioneer for the Knox County Jr. Fair livestock sales for the past 40 years. He has also found time to work at benefit auctions at schools and other charitable functions.
“I still have lots of sales ... I do enjoy the auction business,” added Shaw.
Red and Betty will lead the day’s festivities at the head of the Christmas Parade on Sunday, Nov. 27, starting at 2:30 p.m.
“All I have to do that day is show up and ride,” said Shaw.