Prepping stalls for steers at the Fort Worth Stock Show is a little different from setting up camp for a weekend at the lake.
For their nine steers, students from the Midlothian High School FFA took about 40 trips to the trailer to unload 2,250 pounds of bedding pellets and 900 pounds of feed.
To make their animals handsome for the junior steer shows, the premier events at the Stock Show, the students packed nine bottles of shampoo, nine bottles of sheen, 18 bottles of tail adhesive, grooming tools, show halters and cattle ties.
The payoff can be decent; last year’s grand champion steer brought $210,000 in the Sale of Champions, where the top junior steers are auctioned at prices way above market value.
And winning is not easy.
It’s the day they’ve been waiting for, for the last six months.
Matt Brockman, Fort Worth Stock Show publicity manager, on the junior livestock exhibitors
The Midlothian FFA steers were among more than 1,800 that moved into the four cattle barns at Will Rogers Memorial Center on Tuesday.
The steers — from Angus to polled Hereford to European Crossbred — will be groomed, fed and exercised before being shown for competition on Thursday and Friday.
The students? They have to be kept happy as well.
“A lot of preparation goes into this, not to mention all of the snacks and drinks for the kids,” said Christie Norwood, also known as the “barn mom” to the students.
‘We’re ready for them’
Tuesday’s moving day also included the arrival of some 1,400 barrows.
All told, the Stock Show received more than 30,000 livestock entries this year, including goats, sheep, pigeons, horses, rabbits, chickens and llamas, said Matt Brockman, the Stock Show’s publicity manager.
Trucks and trailers began staging late Sunday in the Farrington Field parking lot, across the street from the Stock Show grounds, with exhibitors coming from 238 of the state’s 254 counties, Brockman said.
“From Childress and Laredo to Colleyville and The Woodlands, they come from all over,” Brockman said. “These kids are excited, regardless of where they grow up.”
The closer it gets to move-in day, the students — and their parents and teachers — know that their Super Bowl is approaching.
“It’s the day they’ve been waiting for, for the last six months,” Brockman said. “At 7 a.m. Tuesday morning they’re ready to bust through the gates, and we’re ready for them.”
Worth the wait
Dean and Keeley Sasser drove from Levelland, just outside of Lubbock, and arrived in the staging area Monday afternoon. After a restful night’s sleep in the pickup truck, they began unloading at 8:30 a.m. and a little more than an hour later were bathing their steer, one of several grooming sessions to take place before show day.
Keeley Sasser said after six years of showing, she has learned how to pack and unpack quickly.
“We have a show box,”she said. “It holds all of the grooming supplies, shampoo, combs and foam.”
Settling in will take a little longer for Byron Setser, who left from New Braunfels about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Setser was in one of hundreds of trucks packed tight in rows, waiting to get an assigned barn and stall, which he predicted would take about 2 1/2 hours.
He said the longest he has waited in the parking lot at the Fort Worth Stock Show was about four hours, which isn’t bad compared to shows at other towns.
“In San Antonio, we’ve sat there for seven or eight hours.”