NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Keeping with tradition at the 2019 Piney Woods Fair, agricultural competitions helped kick-off the official first day of fair festivities in Nacogdoches.
Opening day began with the Market Broiler competition, which included 45 entries from every school in Nacogdoches County. It’s a big responsibility for the students, considering that at the end of the day only one person would be crowned grand champion.
“You as a county should be proud of yourself for the kind of kids you are raising, and you’re using chickens to do it,” said Brian Lowe, a judge at the broiler show.
The honor of Market Boiler Grand Champion went to 6-year-old Cason Cobb of Nacogdoches Regions Academy.
When asked whether he knew he’d win, he replied, “No, not all. I figured we’d get 5th or 6th [place].”
“I came outside every day after school, stirred them up, filled the waters, filled feeders - a lot of work,” he added.
Participation in the agriculture exhibits has dropped slightly from recent years. There are several contributing factors, including the 4-H and Future Farmers of America’s (FFA) diversification of categories that students can participate in.
“Last year our sale grossed $180,000, which is as big as it ever been," said Arnie Kelley, the Agriculture Committee chair. "We were very grateful for that.”
Even so, the financial return rarely allows families to break even on raising a show animal. Participation in livestock exhibitions can also be influenced by how busy kids are today.
Danni Amos with Garrison FFA knows about the drop in livestock interest first-hand; her team went to state in early 2019 and won in the field of entomology.
“Maybe you don’t have the time to raise an animal. Well, you can join a team, practice, and win state," said Karli Stokes, member of the Garrison FFA.
Stokes was named Reserve Champion in Wednesday’s broiler show, but she said it didn’t match the day earlier this year when the Garrison FFA Entomology Team won the state competition.
Amos said students have so many opportunities compared to past years that it is hard to keep your focus on only one or two categories.
“We’re currently facing, I wouldn’t really say it’s an issue, but the problem is there are so many opportunities for kids to get involved in,” Amos explained. “We do have kids who are involved in multiple organizations.”
The career development events are competing with more traditional livestock exhibits, but one thing hasn’t changed: raising an animal teaches responsibility.
Students will finish out Wednesday’s competition with a rabbit show, followed by a hog show on Thursday.
Wednesday night will be marked by KTRE Night. Guests who show up with three canned goods for local food banks will receive wristbands for unlimited rides at a special discount.
The 2019 Piney Woods Fair runs from Wednesday, Oct. 9 through Sunday, Oct. 13. Admission is $5. CLICK HERE TO SEE FULL SCHEDULE