NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Earlier Thursday, the selection of the Grand and Reserve Champion Steers in the 2015 Junior Steer Show happened at the Nac Expo.
Participation in these kinds of shows may be down, but the hard work and dedication go unchanged.
Hunter Metteauer of Chireno Future Farmer's of America owns the Nacogdoches County Grand Champion Steer.
"Well we named him Yellowjacket because he's kinda crazy, if you ask me, but he's pretty sweet and nice," Metteauer said.
Crayton Mangan also of Chireno High School had his Charlois cross received Reserve Champion. Both young men were among 33 exhibitors.
Even so it was less competition than what Hunter's sister Haley, another FFA member and steer exhibitor, remembers back when she started showing animals at age 10.
"The size of the show has definitely decreased a lot since I was younger," Haley said. There used to be hundreds of steers in this thing. "
Livestock judges fully understand that raising a steer to show quality is an expensive project.
"I manage feed stores, and I know what these kids have to pay for show feed," said Jason Hendricks, a judge. "I know what they have to pay for hay. I know what they have to pay for the cattle themselves."
Some of the expense can be made back from show money and premium sales, but the travel requires time away from school. That, too, has changed.
"Used to, we could take kids off to a livestock show for a week at a time and there not be any repercussions," said Ricky Thompson, the Texas AgriLife agent for Nacogdoches.
Lower participation places a bigger reliance on sponsors who often pay top dollar for steers just to help the kids and their parents out.
"Every dollar is well received and used certainly for the benefit of these kids," said Patrick Lanmon, the Steer Show's president.
It's an experience few competitors say they would trade. Haley sticks with it to help with a future agriculture business degree. Crayton sticks with it because he's ready to have a Grand Champion steer after three Reserve champions under his belt. Both want to see what they can do next year up against Hunter who for now goes home with the grand champion trophy.
Friday at 6:30 p.m. the Steer Show Premium Sale gets underway. The event is fun to watch even if you don't plan to buy.
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