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 wood 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 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 and many other families showing livestock 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 to 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, even 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 TCU. 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 decorate 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 Friday at the Stock Show.

"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 looked stark -- a few chairs arranged around a simple folding table covered in soda cans, bread loaves and Pringles canisters.

JoAnn Hoff of Windthorst 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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