Darren Richmond wants to live like a kid for the rest of his life.
“This is what I’ve been doing since I was 9,” the 53-year-old Ringgold, Ga., man said as he moved 10 head of Santa Gertrudis cattle into a space set aside for his company, A&R Marketing, in the Moncrief building for the Fort Worth Stock Show.
“My dad did it before me. I don’t know anything else.”
So it didn’t bother Richmond to leave a ranch in Williamsport, Tenn., at midmorning Thursday pulling a livestock trailer with the Gerts (the breed’s nickname). He was happy to pull that rig into the show’s staging area at 5:30 a.m. Friday, because he and his partner were at the head of the line of trucks pulling trailers into the gate when it opened at 8 a.m.
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Behind them, other trailers carried Brahman, Beefmaster and Braunvieh cattle, as well as dairy cattle and Boer goats, all destined for open shows and sales this week at what Richmond considers one of the top three events of its kind in the nation.
“We hit about 12 shows a year to promote the breeders who own the cattle, and promote the breed itself,” Richmond said. “These 10 have six owners from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee and Ohio.”
This year’s Stock Show is attracting professional animal breeders from across the nation. Some, like Richmond, make their living by raising and showing livestock for themselves and/or other owners.
Then, there are the folks who are trying to get where Richmond is.
Cheyenne Rhea, 17, of Midlothian is in her sixth year of showing and has five Boer goats registered for Sunday and Monday events in the Sheep Barn.
“When I was a little girl, I fell in love with a goat at a petting zoo,” Rhea said. “I’ve wanted to raise them since then. It’s nice that now everything revolves around goats.”
At the shows, Rhea said she will “watch what’s happening so I can build my own herd in the right direction. We have around 36 goats now. My goal is to have at least 50 breeding and market goats.”
Still other breeders have a separate source of income that sustains the family. Showing and selling makes raising livestock more of a self-sustaining (they hope) hobby.
With the help of family, Bethalan Bishop, 14, brought seven Brahmans from the family’s IS Ranch in Trinton, Fla.
“I’ve been [showing cattle] since I was 3,” she said. “My great-grandfather started the ranch, and this is what I want to do with my life. Still, it’s more of a hobby that makes some money. My dad works for the state, and that’s the family’s main income source.”
People from 237 of Texas’ 254 counties are registered this year, officials said. Forty-three states are represented.
Animals make up the majority of this year’s more than 29,460 entries, but art and the junior agriculture mechanics projects are also entered. And whether you’re talking about the professionals who compete in the open shows or students whose projects follow in the junior livestock show — 11,254 junior entries represent a 4 percent increase over last year — the Stock Show is ready.
As cattle, goats and horses arrived Friday, Bob Stiles was overseeing a crew that was storing bedding and feed in a centrally located building. Stiles has been running the livestock feed exchange for 46 years.
“We’ll go through 3,200 bales of straw for bedding, and about 1,400 3.5-cubic-foot bags of pine shaving bedding,” Stiles said.
And, he said, his crews will haul in 50 tons of feed for animals as varied as chickens and Chianinas, llamas and longhorns.
If you go
The 2015 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo runs Jan. 16 through Feb. 7 at the Will Rogers Memorial Complex in the city’s museum district, just west of downtown. Call 817-877-2420 or see www.fwssr.com for tickets and other information.
To reach the show grounds from Interstate 30, go north on University Drive or Montgomery Street.