FORT WORTH -- The rodeo gate swings open, and a horse races out bucking.
Every year, Victoria Shelton, 17, waits for that one moment at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
Shelton was named Grand Champion of the 2013 Star-Telegram Stock Show Art Contest for her watercolor rendering of a rodeo, superimposed onto a cow.
"I go to the Stock Show every year, and my absolute favorite part is the gates opening to the rodeo," said Shelton, 17, a junior at Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth, who won a $3,000 college scholarship. "It's really inspirational."
Young artists won $20,000 in awards, prizes and scholarship money Saturday at the annual Stock Show Art Contest for pieces that depict cattle and hogs, cowboys and the historic Stockyards.
A panel of local art professionals judged the nearly 1,500 entries from children 5 to 18. Entries are on display at the Stock Show, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
Jay Blackmon, competition coordinator, said the contest helps engage young people who are unable or uninterested in showing animals.
"Not all children are able to own and raise animals," Blackmon said. "These students are very talented, and we want to showcase and honor those talents."
Artists were instructed to use their imaginations to create works that capture the spirit of the Stock Show or Western heritage, as well as the theme of this year's event, Bring It!
Using colored pencils, Sarah Jones, 17, a senior at Keller High School, sketched a longhorn cattle drive. Jones won Reserve Champion and a $2,500 scholarship. Jones moved from Oklahoma to Texas in the eighth grade and visited the Fort Worth Stockyards, where she saw a cattle drive.
"The longhorn is such a majestic animal," Jones said. "I wanted to capture the beauty and atmosphere of that cattle drive."
For some artists, the competition provided an opportunity to draw something close to their hearts.
Annika Lindt, 6, of Decatur won first place in the 5- to 6-year-old category for her chalk drawing of her family's pet chickens, Chocolate and Pumpkin.
"They're really sweet chickens," said Annika, who won $150. "They let me pet them and everything, so I thought it would be nice to draw their picture."
Sarah Bahari, 817-390-7056