There's no place like home, even at the Stock Show

Posted Monday, Jan. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- Seated around a faux fireplace mantel decorated with photos of their sons, Mac and Kathy McKinnerney relaxed with cups of steaming hot chocolate.

Their jackets hung from a wooden, cow-themed coat rack built by one of their boys in a woodworking class when he was 10.

An American flag was mounted on a wall. The floor beneath them was swept clean.

Considering that they were inside a crowded cattle barn Monday at the Fort Worth Stock Show, the McKinnerneys' small space offered a lot of comforts from home. They are among the many families showing livestock who go to time-consuming lengths to create comfortable, even ornate booths in their assigned stalls.

These small areas tucked between the hay and animals offer families a place to gather and wait between events, or display ribbons and photographs from other shows.

"We set this up every year," Kathy McKinnerney said. "It's like a big family reunion here, so it's nice to have a comfortable spot where we can all get together and catch up."

The McKinnerneys of Covington, Texas even manage to work some school spirit into their stall. Their oldest son, Shea, 21, is a student at Tarleton State University and their younger son, Casey, 20, attends Texas Christian University. Their school banners are arranged around the fireplace with purple lights, representing both schools.

Other groups set up tall, homemade cabinets, fencing and shutters. One family put up a temporary wall painted like one side of a barn. A large mural of a farm was painted on another.

Fayette County 4-H mounted photos of members winning ribbons at national and state shows on bright yellow shutters. Wooden cutouts shaped like cows decorated the display, which was designed by several ladies in the group, Carlette Drabek said. It took roughly an hour to set up when the 4-H members arrived at the stock show Friday.

"It's mostly a display to show what the kids have accomplished," she said. "They did a really good job with it."

Several families merely pitched tents. Some areas even looked stark -- a few chairs arranged around a simple folding table covered in cans of soda, loafs of bread and canisters of Pringles.

JoAnn Hoff of Windthorst, Texas puts in plenty of effort. She has come to the stock show for 50 consecutive years and spent about four hours decorating the family's spot in the cattle barn. Photos of her grandchildren arranged with yellow flowers line homemade shelves built by one of two sons who are in the dairy business.

Folding chairs sat on a large piece of green turf that served as carpet.

She has good reason to keep the area tidy. Her family usually arrives there each day at 4 a.m. and remains until 10 p.m.

"We spend a lot of time here, and it's a really nice spot," she said. "So we enjoy it."

Alex Branch 817-390-7689

Twitter: @albranch1

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