“Yodel-ay-hee-hoo!” Alden Neal takes the stage

Alden Neal
Alden Neal

 

Alden Neal warms up by yodeling.

“Yodel-ay-hee-hoo!”

The sound has penetraged the halls of the Idaho School Boards Association’s annual conventions for 26 years.

Neal has been the convention’s auctioneer since 1989. Before the auction chants begin, he must first yodel.

“Yodel-ay-hee-hoo!”

Then comes the auction chant, one of the most identifiable and attractive features of the ISBA’s annual event.

“75 dollar bid, now 100, now 100, will ya give me 100? Here we go! Now 2. Give me 200 hundred, nice even number! 200 one time. 200. 200 last call. SOLD!”

“There aren’t many here who don’t know him,” said Dallas Clinger from American Falls.

Neal auctions off donated items and the proceeds generated benefit a college scholarship fund. The ISBA awards scholarships to qualified college-bond students who are children or grandchildren of current or past ISBA board members. More than $115,000 has been awarded to Idaho high school graduates over the last 11 years.

“I’m real proud of that,” said Neal, who served on the Malad School Board for 16 years and is a former president of the ISBA. His granddaughter was a scholarship recipient last year and she was able to use the money to buy books.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Loraine Neal, Alden’s wife and auction “bookie.”

The Neals have participated in hundreds of auctions. Alden doesn’t take money for his time. He auctions for goodwill, benefits and fundraisers.

“The good Lord blessed me with the talent and I enjoy sharing it,” he said.

It’s a talent he’s been honing since he was 8 years old. Bored while milking the family cows, Neal would entertain himself, and relax the female cows, by singing and yodeling. He heard his dad doing it and so taught himself to do the same thing. He perfected the sound from listening to the radio.

“I taught myself to auction, too,” he said. “I just always had the voice for it.”

Alden also sings in weddings and announces at rodeos.

“He is entertaining,” Loraine said.

Alden grew up in Stone, Idaho, about 40 miles from Malad. He attended Malad schools and studied in a two-room school house until he was in the eighth grade. He then bused 38 miles one way from his family farm to Malad High. His day included morning and evening chores.

Alden bought his father’s farm, which was first own by his grandfather, and spent most of his life cultivating 680 acres and ranching more than 200 head of cattle. He sold the farm in 2004 and moved to Malad, where he dabbles in farming and helps his wife manage a huge flowered yard.

He’s a regular feature at community events, sounding the rapid-fire cadence of auction bids or crooning a sultry wedding melody.

Check back here Friday afternoon for news from the ISBA’s business session, including officer elections and resolutions.