By CHERIL VERNON
For four decades, the Anderson County Youth Livestock Association has provided a place where area youth could show their livestock animals to raise money to further their education.
Though the location has changed over the years from the Anderson County Fairgrounds to eventually the Anderson County Youth Livestock Expo Center, the mission has remained the same: to provide scholarships to Anderson County youth while providing a place for the youth to have a livestock show and rodeo and other functions that involve local kids.
The 40th annual Anderson County Youth Livestock Show, set to kick off Monday, is no exception.
“We're giving out $46,000 worth of scholarships this year which I believe is a record,” ACYLA Facilities Director Susie Bennett told the Herald-Press Friday. “That includes the ACYLA Crawfish Boil Scholarship Fund, Boston Porter Memorial Scholarship Fund, ACYLA Show Scholarship Fund and the Jim Bishop Memorial Scholarship.”
More than 100 local youth from area schools and 4-H clubs will participate in this year's livestock show — showing off their animal projects ranging from broilers, rabbits, breeding gilt, market swine, goats, lambs, heifers and steers.
Schools participating include Palestine, Westwood, Elkhart, Slocum, Cayuga, Neches and Frankston. Local 4-H clubs participating include Cayuga 4-H, Old Cayuga 4-H, Elkhart 4-H, Dogwood 4-H, Frankston 4-H, Harmony Broyles-Chapel 4-H and Ioni Creek 4-H.
“The competition is fierce,” Bennett said. “Some of these kids come out here year after year and they get hooked and they want to keep it up.”
Judging will be held Monday through Wednesday with the buyers barbecue and premium auction set for Thursday.
“We want to encourage everybody to come out for the livestock show and support these kids. They will be showing animals each day at different times. Come out and watch the rabbit show if you like rabbits, or if you are interested in lambs, come watch that show,” Bennett said as she discussed the different events. “We have a good concession stand too.”
Agriland Farm Credit will hold a stuffed baked potato lunch for the youth participants on Monday, while Triple S Cowboy Church will feed the exhibitors breakfast on Tuesday.
Madison Gas is providing the buyers barbecue on Thursday night, while Red Dawg Rentals will feed the kids grilled hamburgers on sale night.
“We have such wonderful participants and sponsors from the area,” Bennett said. “They really do support the kids.”
Many of the youth exhibitors take care of the animals they plan to show before and after school, feeding and grooming them sometimes for several months.
“It gives kids something to do and keeps them busy and out of trouble, as well as teaching them responsibilities and the importance of having goals,” Bennett said.
This year the number of scholarship applicants skyrocketed.
“I have more scholarship applications than I have ever had,” Bennett said. “And we have some of the most qualified kids we have ever seen — they certainly have the backing for the applications.”
Community service plays a big role in the scholarship applications.
“We ask what community service they have done. We like for them to come work at our crawfish boil (the annual crawfish boil is held on the first Saturday of May and raises money for scholarships), work at the rodeo and in the concession stand during the livestock show,” Bennett said.
For many exhibitors, the money they raise through scholarships and the sale of their animals while in school can pay for their college.
“Former local 4-H extension agent Christine Greer graduated from Texas A&M. She used to say she paid for her education with chickens,” Bennett said. “A lot of kids will save money through the years from showing animals so they can use it for college.”
Another example of a homegrown success from the livestock show is the ACYLA's auctioneer Bret Richards.
“Bret Richards is now a commercial auctioneer who travels all over the country. He was born and raised here in Cayuga and participated in the livestock show all during school,” Bennett said. “Now he's our auctioneer.”
Besides the animals that will be shown during the livestock show, area high schools also will compete for awards for their agriculture mechanic projects.
“Several of the kids have gone to Houston with these projects and have brought them back to show at our fair,” Bennett said.
For many exhibitors, taking part in the livestock show is a family tradition.
“It's very family oriented. The kids have a wonderful time. If their big brother or big sister are showing animals and they aren't old enough to do it, they watch them,” Bennett said. “By the time they are old enough to show animals themselves they already know how to do it.”
Many pre-sale items also will be auctioned off on Thursday prior to the animal projects.
“Each 4-H and FFA brings an item they made that we sell, plus we have 12 cakes,” Bennett said. “Those funds help us with maintenance for the building.”
Thanks to Champion Dodge, another annual fund-raiser is a drawing for a 4-wheeler.
“This year we will sell raffle tickets for a 2014 Kawasaki 300. We will sell tickets during the livestock show and then at the rodeo in May. We will draw a ticket on the Saturday night of the rodeo,” Bennett said. “Champion Dodge is an excellent supporter and has done this for years. It costs a lot of money to keep this building going. This helps us pay for the water, electric and upkeep on the building.”
Tickets will be available for $2 each or three for $5.
During Thursday's auction, many local youth supporters will bid for a chance to win an animal project.
“We have a wealth of people who support the kids and buy their animals,” Bennett said. “Even if you don't buy an animal, you can come support the kids or do an add-on for them.”
An add-on is when an individual or group provides extra money for the exhibitor, especially in cases when the auction may not have brought in much money.
“There's a little sheet where you can add whatever amount you want to donate to the kid,” Bennett said. “It's tax-deductible.”
The Anderson County Youth Livestock Expo Center is located off U.S. 287 North in Palestine.
Here is the schedule for the Anderson County Youth Livestock Show,which will be held Monday through Thursday at the Anderson County Youth Livestock Expo Center, located on U.S. 287 North.
• 1 to 5 p.m. — Check-in for all animals except broilers, rabbits and breeding goats
• 5:30 p.m. — Official weigh-in of market animals. Order: Steers, lambs, goats and hogs
• 7 to 9 a.m. — Check-in broilers
• 9 a.m. to noon — Check-in project show
• 10:30 a.m. — Broiler judging. Non-placing broilers go home by 10 p.m. on the day of the judging
• Noon to 2 p.m. — Check-in for market rabbits and breeding rabbits
• 1 p.m. — Commercial heifers interviews
• 1:30 p.m. — Commercial heifer judging
• 3 p.m. — Breeding rabbit judging and market rabbit judging then showmanship. Market rabbit pictures will be taken after rabbit judging. Non-placing rabbits must be removed from the show grounds at the conclusion of the judging.
• 7 p.m. — Breeding gilt show. No showmanship for this class.
• 10 a.m. — Project show judging
• 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Check-in breeding goats
• 1 p.m. — Breeding goat show (breeding goats must be out of barn at end of breeding show)
• 3 p.m. — Market goat judging, followed by junior and senior showmanship and sale order placing
• 6 p.m. — Market swine judging, followed by junior and senior showmanship and sale order placing. Market swine pictures to be taken as sale order is placed.
• 8 a.m. — Market swine that did not qualify for the premium sale may start checking out — must be removed by noon
• 3:30 p.m. — Lamb judging to be followed by junior and senior showmanship and sale order
• 5:30 p.m. — Breeding heifer judging. There will be a 15-minute break between the heifer and steer show
• 7 p.m. — Market steer judging, followed by junior and senior showmanship and sale order placing. Showmanship is open only to Anderson County 4-H and FFA youth who meet the general rules and guidelines for exhibitors. Market steer pictures to be taken as sale order is placed.
• 5:30 p.m. — Buyer barbecue
• 7 p.m. — Premium auction sale
• All animals must be out. Clean-up day.