My son, Drew, has had a big week. The Hays County Livestock Show started on Wednesday night in Dripping Springs and he was showing his two goats, a new experience for him as this is his first year keeping goats and his first year as a member of the local 4-H Club (if you’re from the UK, think ”Young Farmers” but on steroids).
The workings of the show are somewhat confusing to newcomers but the general format is something like this. Kids show their animals in classes based on weight or age (depending upon the species). In each class, first, second, third, fourth, etc. are awarded ribbons. Classes are grouped into larger divisions and division champions are then judged followed by breed Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion.
After judging, the top animals – all champions, division winners and the top 3 or so in each class – are accepted into the auction which happens on the last day of the show. Drew got 4th place in both of the classes his goats were in and he made the auction list.
The auction takes the whole last day of the show. Unlike some other ”terminal” shows, the kids get to keep their animals after this one so the buyers don’t actually walk away with goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, lambs, pigs and steers – their purchase is more or less a donation to the kid to help defray the cost of raising the animal or, for some of the older kids, to boost their college fund.
Yesterday, somewhere around 270 lots went under the hammer in Dripping Springs and, by my back-of-the-envelope calculation, local businesses, community organisations and individuals gave something like half a million dollars in donations to the show participants. For many of those organisations, the county show is the culmination of a year’s fundraising specifically aimed at supporting local 4-H and FFA (directly analogous to Young Farmers in the UK) kids and their projects.
At the end of the week, Drew came away with his two 4th places for the goats and a third place in photography. The print he is holding is the image that did best in the competition. Traditionally, the kids bring gifts for their ”buyer” in lieu of the actual animal bought so this image will be winging its way to the wall of some member or sponsor of the Dripping Springs Ag Boosters.
If you are interested in more pictures from the show, you can find my favourites here.
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