NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - East Texas News found what all county fairs are about Wednesday - kids and animals.
Specifically, the focus at the Piney Woods Fair in Nacogdoches was poultry Wednesday morning.
At a county fair, you can sense participants' attitude about their livestock by what's written on their shirts. They all agree, "Life is better in the show ring."
The best chickens in Nacogdoches County came to order at the opening of the Piney Woods Fair. Their owners could argue their birds were the best in Texas.
"You got a really competitive show here which you should be really proud of," said Jason Lee, a poultry judge.
As written on his back, Lee comes from Texas A&M's Poultry Science Department, so he must know a thing or two about broilers.
"It takes a lot of hard work and some luck that's in there, but everybody thinks, 'Oh, raising chickens is easy. It's not as easy as one would think until they actually do it,'" Lee said.
Garrison FFA has been "stacking banners since 1977." Their shirts say so. Growing up, Lee never earned a champion banner, but he knew to, "never quit."
"Sometimes you just don't get the birds in the box," Lee said.
On Wednesday, Lee has the magic touch for determining the largest breast yield off a broiler. In this topsy-turvy business of growing chickens, the goal is to get a profitable return on the highest retail cut. That way, growers can boast, "Our backyard feeds America."
"Congratulations, son. Good job," Lee said. "Amazing. Yeah, Amazing."
That's pretty amazing because grand champion winner Crayton Mangan of Chireno didn't know which bird he would be bringing to this morning's show until this morning.
"Actually we got up this morning at five o'clock," Mangan said.
OK, that explains all the doughnut boxes. Doughnuts are breakfast of champions, obviously.
"Went down there and really went over them to make sure we were bringing the ones we wanted to," Mangan said. "And even when we bring them here, we let other people get their look, to see what they think."
"Let me tell you son," said one poultry grower observer who was talking about the winner's circle. "If I had touched them in the parking lot, I would have told you to come on in here."
Talk like that brings a smile. That grin may be seen again on Saturday when competitors auction off their poultry to businesses and individuals that hopefully have deep pockets.
"Spend it on the best," Mangan said.
After all, exhibitors may want to go out and buy a new shirt.