Next time you take a bite of juicy steak, think of the hundreds of people like Maddie Caughron who get up before dawn and drive hundreds of miles to the Fort Worth Stock Show junior steer competition.
Caughron, 18, and others in her generation want to be responsible for the production of a safe and reliable food source for future Americans. That’s a big part of what the Stock Show is all about.
Caughron, a senior at Greenwood High School near Midland, was among the hundreds of Stock Show participants who lined up Monday to prepare for the annual junior steer competition, which will continue through Friday and will culminate with an auction of the most prized animals (with six figures likely going to the winner).
Technically, move-in day for steers isn’t until Tuesday, but the owners of many of these animals traditionally show up a day early to get their pen organized and their animals cleaned and ready. These early arrivals are queued up at Farrington Field across from the Stock Show, and by 9:30 a.m. Monday more than 100 pickups and trailers were lined up.
Caughron’s family has several steers at their home near Midland. She was attending the show with family members and friends who not only raise the animals for slaughter but also breed them.
Her steer is solid black and weighs 1,300 pounds. His name is Beauregard.
Caughron, who is with the Midland County 4H program, has been coming to the Fort Worth Stock Show for a decade.
“It has taught me respectfulness — taught me how to take care of something else,” the Greenwood senior said. “You meet so many different people. It makes a big impact on your life. It’s more than just, like, coming and showing. You get to spend time with people you can’t really get to see very often.”
More than 3,600 steers are expected to take part in this year’s junior steer show, spokesman Matt Brockman said. Spaces on the Stock Show grounds are assigned, but participants come early to avoid waiting in line all day Tuesday, he said.
“When you’re moving in that many steers, it takes a long time,” he said. “They have to work on preparation, getting those animals groomed and washed for a final time before they are exhibited.”
“The sale is on Saturday, and there will be roughly 300 steers that will make the sale,” he said.
Last year, the grand champion steer, Rocco — a European crossbred shown by Mikala Grady, then 15, of Grandview — fetched a record-tying $240,000 at auction. It was bought by Women Steering Business, a bidding group whose founding members include Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.
“These are the young men and women enrolled in 4H and FFA who are interested in pursuing a career in the livestock and food industry,” Brockman said. “This is an opportunity for them to gain exposure, and the buyers are willing to pay these young women and men for their careers.”
Many Stock Show participants also lined up as early as Sunday afternoon for the swine competition. They were allowed into the Stock Show grounds around noon Monday.
“We spent the night at a motel last night,” said Roger Green of Lubbock, who was working with a group from that city’s Monterey High School. “The students are meeting us here. We’re ready to get in and unload, and start feeding them and watering and getting ready for the show.”
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.