January is here and many families across Texas are watching the excitement, as well as the anxiety, build among youngsters who have projects for the upcoming youth livestock shows.
That is certainly the case in Nueces, San Patricio, Kleberg and Bee counties in the Lower Coastal Bend area. In fact, the so-called "Stock Show Fever" can be found spreading across the entire Lone Star State once the new year arrives.
Yes, the first month of the year is a popular time frame for conducting livestock shows in Texas. Folks in Odessa have the distinction of having the earliest stock show and rodeo of the new year. It is also the month when the oldest (and usually coldest) livestock show in Texas is conducted.
The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, often refereed to as the "Granddaddy of All Texas Stock Shows," marks its 112th year of existence this January. This legendary show operated under a number of different names and was conducted in months other than January during the early years.
Fort Worth also has the distinction of hosting the nation's first indoor rodeo. Currently, the Fort Worth Stock Show has events that run for 23 days from the second week of January and into the first week of February.
Youth livestock shows are also the major January events in South Texas from Bexar and Atascosa counties down to Robstown, Sinton, Beeville and Kingsville. Not many South Texas livestock exhibitors make their way to Forth Worth or Odessa with livestock. They hold out for the big shows closer to home.
Those are the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo that begins on the first weekend of February and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the biggest of them all, which has livestock events and rodeo performances the first three weeks of March. The Star of Texas show in Austin provides additional opportunities for many South Texas exhibitors.
As far as county youth livestock shows go, Nueces County has conducted quite a legendary event for the past 73 years. It is conducted annually from the second through the third Saturdays of January.
This will be the second year that the Nueces County Junior Livestock Show will be conducted in its new home, the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds.
This amazing facility is located east of Highway 77 and just north of East Main Avenue in Robstown. This year, more than 1,150 4-H, FFA and FCCLA participants have entered more than 3,500 projects in the show.
Last year was not only historic from the stand-point of being the first show to be held in Nueces County's fabulous multi-million dollar fairgrounds facility, but it was the first time that buyers of the 780 blue ribbon market animal projects boosted the auction sale over the $1.5 million mark.
These historic events prompted the Robstown Area Development Commission and city leaders to erect signboards that greet visitors with "Welcome to the Home of the State's Greatest Junior Livestock Show."
Two days before the opening of this year's Nueces County Junior Livestock Show, the County Commissioner's Court conducted the grand opening of their latest addition to the regional fairgrounds complex, a $7 million Equestrian Center. That new facility hosted an exceptional opening weekend team-roping event sponsored by Holt Caterpillar.
Over 900 teams competed while 77 BBQ cooking teams were preparing brisket, pork ribs, chicken, beans and a variety of delicious dishes entered in the "Cook's Choice" division of the day-long competition.
This year the Nueces County Junior Livestock Show was honored to have Les Brandes to serve as the parade marshal. Brandes served as assistant county extension agent in the 1940s before and after World War II.
He was instrumental in organizing businesses and community leaders in Nueces County that generated the financial support to purchase a site, which allowed the Junior Livestock Show to have its first permanent home. This was a great improvement over tents on vacant lots for a January youth livestock show.
Some 60 years later, the Nueces County Junior Livestock Show has another new home thanks to the vision of the Commissioner's Court and the support of the citizens of the county.
Come out and support the youth who have worked to prepare their projects and take in the show in the heated comfort of this bright new facility.
Harvey Buehring is the former Agricultural Extension Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at (361) 767-5223.