By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – The countdown has begun to see "Who is the "best of the best?" at the Angelina County Youth Fair.
The Youth Fair is in its 61st year. This year hundreds of teenagers and their stock are parading around the George H. Henderson Jr. Exposition Center in hopes of catching the judge's eye. The market hog and goat show was the highlight of Thursday's events.
The big show attraction is on Friday when the bidding begins for the competition's best animals.
Nine-year-old Cason Jenkins is already saving up to go to college. He's hoping 975-pound "Lil Papa" can help him get there. "First, I lead him in, then I set him up, and I rub his belly and I calm him down," Cason explained. The two-time veteran knows what's important to the judges. "They're looking for meat on their body, nice tender meat that will taste good."
This is Tanner Kassaw's fourth year. The Lufkin Middle School student is looking to win with his goat so that he can show it in the big sale. "The top animals in the whole 4-H that are judged get to walk through this arena and we'll have people up in the bleachers and they're going to bid for the animal."
Some worry tough times could keep some people from the competition and the auction. "It'll probably affect it and some people probably will not show up this year," Tanner said. Kassaw agreed, "The economy has some effect on it because it is expensive to raise some of these animals and feed them for the period of time that they do."
Regardless of the economy, come Friday night, Kassaw and the rest of the hopeful show participants are wishing East Texans show up to reward the kids' hard work.
"The economy is at a difficult time right, last year was a difficult time, yet, the business community continued to support the Youth Fair. They just dig a little deeper and they help these kids," according to Todd Kassaw, Chairman, Angelina County Youth Fair. "Angelina County is the most giving communities in the state or the nation, hands down, without question, and when times get tough like it is now, instead of them walking away, they just dig deeper."
Auction participates help the youngsters keep a tradition alive. The Youth Fair started as an outdoor event where Morris Frank Park is now located. It's now under a covered arena at the Exposition Center. Last year award recipients received about $250,000.
The Youth Fair Auction begins Friday at 6 p.m. If you can't make the auction, but still want to participate, call the Angelina County Chamber of Commerce (936-634-6644), or the Expo Center (936-637-3976), and they can get someone to bid for you.