FORT WORTH -- The Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate and other groups raising money to buy this year's champion steers, pigs, goats and lambs exhibited by youths have some new help.
A group calling itself the Fort Worth Business Women, organized through the syndicate, king of the groups that raise money for the Stock Show's Junior Sale of Champions, has 33 commitments so far, said Becky Renfro Borbolla, founder of the group and an executive at Renfro Foods in Fort Worth.
If everyone who's expressed interest comes through, she expects to have $21,000 to $25,000 to spend at the auction, "possibly up to $30,000," she said Friday.
Mayor Betsy Price was among those who signed on to contribute at least the minimum $500.
The group wants to spend all of its cash on one steer raised by a girl, Renfro Borbolla said. She'll bid for her members, who will wear red jackets or shirts to set themselves apart from the Ladies on the Lamb group, which wears pink.
Motivating the Fort Worth Business Women was the dearth of women among the benefactors who buy steers at the high-profile auction. Renfro Borbolla said she sent an email Jan. 7 to potential donors and raised $15,000 within three days.
"There's no group of women that have ever bought the steers, so we decided this would be fun and beneficial," Price said Friday. She and her husband have participated in other youth livestock auctions, but not the Stock Show's.
Larry Anfin, chairman of the syndicate, said his group welcomes the help. Women such as Jill Davis of the Happy Davis Foundation have made record purchases, but the syndicate has no female members, he noted.
Last year's sale, which featured 288 animals, posted a record $2.91 million in total sales, with the grand champion steer selling for a record $230,000. This year, commitments are running ahead of schedule, Anfin said. The groups are trying to bring in commitments to buy a total 320 animals.
"We were at 300 two weeks ago," he said Friday. "You don't want to jinx it, but it seems like we're going to have a good sale."
Among the other groups, the Fort Worth Businessmen, headed by the Aledo real estate investor Larry White Jr., said "I'm very comfortable we're going to beat last year's numbers."
The Fort Worth Businessmen spent $120,000 last year, and White's U Ol' Goat Committee raised $60,000.
This year, the Fort Worth Businessmen aim to buy 12 to 21 steers, and the goat committee three to four goats out of the six champions that will be in the auction, White said.
"Last year was a hard year," said White, who has purchased all four grand champions in recent years. "This year, we're way ahead of the pack."
Over at the Tallest Hog at the Trough group, spokesman Gary Ray said, "We could use some more pig buyers, that's for sure. We're running a little light right now."
The group spent nearly $100,000 on the 12 champion pigs at last year's auction, but the grand champion was off, selling for $20,000, down from $100,000 the previous year.
Ray said the group hopes the grand champion will bring $50,000 to $75,000 this year. "It doesn't matter what the animal is," he said. "If it's a grand champion in Fort Worth, it ought to be worth quite a bit of college money."
At Ladies on the Lamb, which raised $50,000 last year, Chairwoman Rebecca Pearce said, "We're having a great year as far as we can tell. We've got a lot of contributions, but they keep coming in. It's hard for us to tell where we're going to end up."
Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808