The day is not too far in the future when Stevi Rumfield won’t have animals in the barn to go feed, first thing every morning.

And Rumfield already knows she’s going to miss that chore. The reigning Miss Brown County Fair Association is a veteran at the Brown County Youth Fair. She began showing rabbits as a third-grader and in the years since has shown pigs, lambs, and, last year, goats. But in fifth grade, Rumfield began showing steers, and that’s her love.

Rumfield will be a senior at Early High School this year, and she said, she’s got five steers she’s getting ready to show.

“This is my last year,” Rumfield said, “and it makes me a little sad to think about that. And it makes me want to enjoy everything for as much as I can, as long as I can.

“I’ve had animals year-round the past seven years. I don’t know what it’s going to be like when I don’t have to go down to the barn because I don’t have animals.”

Showing steers is a year-long process. Rumfield said “they’re young and wild” when she gets them at first. Her favorite part is to halter train them, she said. And before long, they’re like pets. She even names them, knowing the show will come when the pet will be sold.

“Always before, I knew as soon as one was gone, I’d be getting another one to start over with, but this year it’s not going to be that way,” she said.

Most girls will admit that when they were little girls, just starting to show animals, a big part of the Brown County Youth Fair was watching the older girls who were the Miss Brown County Fair contestants and thinking, “Some day, I’m going to try that.”

Not Rumfield.

“I was a tomboy when I was little,” she said. “I would never even think about doing that.”

But when Rumfield was an eighth-grader, her sister Leslie was one of the contestants, and Stevi said for the first time she began to think that maybe some day, she would compete.

“Leslie was really supportive this year when I was a contestant. And it’s not as easy as it looks,” Stevi said. “If I was telling someone what it takes, I’d say, ‘Stay with it. Stick with calling people and trying to get more members for the Fair Association. It takes work, but it is worth it because of the people you meet and the responsibility you learn.”

Stevi’s crowning as Miss Brown County Fair Association is the third time in as many years an Early High School student has gotten the crown.

“The pressure was on,” she said. “I didn’t want to lose it for them.”

Stevi said both she and Leslie started to show because their friends showed animals, and they thought it would be fun. But raising the animals has become a family affair. Their parents Steve and Susan Rumfield hadn’t shown animals when they were young, but they were supportive of their daughters desire to get involved.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it, any of it, if it weren’t for our parents. It’s been something our whole family has done together, and it’s been a big part of all of our lives. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been a lot of fun,” Stevi said.

But also, she said, while she it thanking people, she wants to thank “everyone who has anything to do with the youth fair. It helps kids out a lot.”

As Miss Brown County Fair Association, Rumfield is the reigning queen for the 45th annual Brown County Rodeo. And the week has its official opening today with the traditional Brown County Fair Association membership barbecue, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Home Economics Building at the Fair Grounds. Non-members are welcome, and for the price of a $20 membership, they can eat to boot.

Then, Thursday is opening night for the first-ever PRCA Rodeo in Brown County. The Thursday event is also “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night and for each person wearing pink, the Brown County Fair Association will donate $1 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure.

Rodeo events will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Earl Q. Wilson Arena.

In celebration of the rodeo, Downtown Brownwood will host several activities during the day Saturday. Sidewalk sales start at 7 a.m., which puts shoppers in prime spots for the rodeo parade, which begins at 10 a.m.

The parade will start at the Brownwood Coliseum, move north on Baker, west on Fisk, north on Adams, east on Center to the courthouse, then back down Fisk to the coliseum. After the parade Saturday, the third annual Spirit of Salsa Festival gets going from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. all along Center Avenue. Participants will be able to taste and judge a variety of salsas. Ticket price is only $3, which gets you a bag of chips and a judging card.

All salsa to be judged by the public will be made in commercial kitchens, with ingredients approved by the FDA to prevent any health concerns. Amateur entries into the salsa festival will be judged by a pre-selected panel. Salsa entry forms may be obtained from downtown merchants, the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce or online at www.VisitBrownwood.com.

Downtown Brownwood Inc. (DBI) will provide live music, raffle items donated by downtown businesses, salsa dancing demonstrations and a “So you think you can salsa dance?” competition.

Raffle tickets may be purchased for $5 from participating DBI merchants through Saturday. Good Samaritan Ministries is partnering with DBI to provide cold drinks, hamburgers, hot dogs and sweet treats to soothe “hot” tongues on a hot day.

Weekend events will wrap up Saturday night at the Brownwood Coliseum for the Rodeo Dance with headliner Wade Bowen. Sunday Canyon, a local band, will kickoff the evening’s entertainment. Doors will open at 8 p.m., and tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

Advance tickets sales for the rodeo and dance can be purchased at KOXE, Scott’s Western Wear, TexasBank, Citizens National Bank and the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on all of these events, call the Chamber or visit the events calendar at www.VisitBrownwood.com.