A long day of showing market swine at the Brown County Youth Fair Thursday ended late in the afternoon with Allie Garcia, a member of the Bangs FFA, taking the grand champion award for her Yorkshire.
Cobe Walker of the Brownwood FFA took the reserve grand champion award.
Hayden Barker, a member of the Early FFA, received the senior showmanship award, and Sidney Hunter of the Zephyr FFA took the junior showmanship.
Few seats were available in the spectator section as a large and appreciative audience watched the judging and the award presentations.
‘I’d put it at 10’
“They said two minutes,” Mike Blagg of KOXE Radio told Sophie Vasquez, a third-grader at Woodland Heights Elementary School, who showed two pigs Thursday.
Blagg, with headphones clamped to his ears and holding a microphone behind a section of bleachers, prepared to interview Sophie for a live segment. Sophie’s mother, Tanya, stood a few feet away, and in the nearby show ring, the market swine show continued almost nonstop.
Blagg prepped the girl for her interview, urging her to give more than one-word answers such as “yes” during the interview.
This year’s youth fair is the first one Blagg has attended. In previous years, Blagg said, he was too busy at the business his family previously owned — Weakley-Watson Hardware — to get away.
Madden Wise, an Early Elementary School fifth-grader who earlier showed sheep and pigs and will show steers Friday, approached with two of his friends.
“Are you back?” Blagg asked playfully. “I’ve already talked to you.”
Sophie proved engaging and talkative as Blagg asked her questions about the youth fair.
“I have two pigs,” Sophie said a few minutes after her radio spot. “I showed one. It was pretty good.”
When asked how she’d rate the youth fair, Sophie replied, “on a scale of one to 10, I’d put it at 10.”
Tanya Vasquez said this is her family’s second year to be a fair family. Her son, Jace, 13, showed last year and is showing this year, Vasquez said.
She said the family got into showing at the fair after “someone at the school asked her if she wanted to show a pig, and we went and bought one.”
Vasquez said her family had “tremendous help” from the 4-H Club. “They’ve been phenomenal,” she said.
Blagg said he loves to see young people doing “positive things” such as participating in the youth fair.
“I’ve learned a lot about the animals and how the process works,” Blagg said. “I’m impressed with the judges. I’m enjoying it.”
When asked if he likes the animals, Blagg deadpanned, “They are one of my favorite bands” — referring to the rock group of the ‘60s. “Oh, those animals?” Blagg continued, returning the conversation to the youth fair. “They’re beautiful animals. These young people have done a great job raising them for the show.
“Well, I’ll see if I can raise up another interview here. Hopefully I can.”
‘Through the roof’
Carey Thornberry, president of the Brown County Fair Association board, said it’s been a great week at the youth fair.
“We started a day early — started on Tuesday,” Thornberry said. “We’ve had a full house every single day. It’s been different for people but overall we’ve had nothing but good things said.
“We’ve had a strong show in the sheep and goats, strong show on the hogs, and the rabbits were up like crazy. Overall our numbers were up … not only in participation but just spectators, people through the barns. It has been through the roof.”
Thornberry, who has two daughters and a son who show animals, said he’s been associated with the fair association for 10 years. “Kids,” Thornberry answered when asked what keeps him involved with the fair.
“We end up everything on Saturday with the culmination of the premium sale. Seeing those kids walk through the ring and seeing them receive that money from our generous people in Brown County — it’s amazing.”
‘A great experience’
Madden Wise walked up with his two friends — Logan Posey, a sixth-grader at Coggin Intermediate School and Vegas Gilliam, a third-grader at Early Elementary. All three wanted to talk about the youth fair.
Logan said he’ll be showing two steers Friday. “My sister did pigs for a while, but I never did pigs,” Logan said.
When asked if he’ll be nervous when he shows his steers, Logan replied, “I’m nervous, the cow’s nervous …”
Vegas said he showed a medium wool and a fine wool sheep, as well as two goats. “I like the experience,” Vega said.
This is Madden’s first fair, and he’s showing sheep, pigs and steers. He said he’s been nervous when showing his animals, but “it’s been a great experience.”