FORT WORTH -- Tuesday was moving day at the Stock Show, and like many others, Amy Vance wanted to get an early start.
The agriculture teacher at Grapevine High School showed up about 8 p.m. Monday and spent the night in a parking lot, waiting to get in.
At 7 a.m. Tuesday, the gate opened and the daylong procession of trailers along University Drive began. Fort Worth police lined up the trailers in groups along one side of University throughout the day.
But the backup wasn't as long as in other years, thanks to an expansion of the parking area behind the cattle barns.
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Arriving Monday still wasn't good enough to get Vance to the front of the line, but she wasn't complaining.
"We waited awhile, but it could have been worse," Vance said. "There were already 24 ... in front of us, but it moved smoothly. It's been much better this year with the changes they've made."
With the modifications, the pickups and cattle trailers had more room to maneuver, said Stefan Marchman, the show's livestock manager.
"They're getting in and out much quicker," Marchman said. "We believe the wait times and drop-off times will be much better this year for everybody."
The steer competition had a record 3,000 entries, but Marchman said 1,500 to 1,800 would actually show up.
Larry Eubank of Italy, in Ellis County, was the ninth person through the gate Tuesday and said the changes were a significant improvement.
Eubank, 55, arrived about 5:45 a.m. Monday and sat all day to be one of the first on the grounds.
His daughter, Bailey, is back in school while Eubank handles the move-in.
"I've been coming since I was 5, and this was the smoothest I've ever seen," Eubank said. "What was taking two hours is taking about 45 minutes this year."
Jeffrey Osbourn and his 12-year-old daughter, Hannah, left their home in San Saba about 3:30 a.m. and got to Fort Worth by dawn. They were in the barn by 10 a.m., and Hannah was fussing over her steer, Scooby. Her father is a former county extension agent, so Hannah said he was making sure she did everything right.
For Vance, 28, bringing city kids to the Stock Show was a new experience.
She taught last year at Mount Pleasant in East Texas but discovered that students in Grapevine and Colleyville were often getting their first experience around livestock.
"It is hard teaching somebody that has never seen a cow or a sheep," Vance said. "In East Texas, I could just refer to something you've seen at somebody's farm down the road, but here I have to show them a video."
But there is a huge upside.
The students in Grapevine and Colleyville don't take it for granted.
"They appreciate it more," Vance said. "They haven't grown up around them, so they're excited. They can't keep them at home. They have to keep them at the barn at school, but they're up there all the time taking care of them. They don't blow it off like some of the kids in the country did."
Lauren Wade, 16, a junior at Grapevine High, is showing a steer for the first time at the Stock Show.
Vance has been a huge help, said Wade, who is anxious about showing Shiner, her European crossbred, on Friday.
"This is like a big deal," Wade said. "It's scary but I can't wait."
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698