Mornings begin early every day at the Stock Show, but one is so busy that it’s really an all-nighter.
Move-in day for thousands of junior exhibitors and their steers and swine involves the intricate staging of trucks and stock trailers on Farrington Field parking lots the day and night before, then moving those vehicles into the Will Rogers complex on Tuesday morning.
For the arriving junior exhibitors, it’s a long wait in line to be checked in and to settle the animals into their stalls and pens before judging begins for the Junior Steer and Barrow divisions Thursday and Friday. The big Sale of Champions on Saturday is the concluding event of the Stock Show.
Move-in day is the largest movement of cattle on a single day in the Stock Show’s three-week run, and thousands of officials and volunteers combine with the Fort Worth Police Department to get ’er done.
The Lake Dallas FFA had the last trailer to be directed out of the Farrington Field lots, at 9:30 a.m., to queue up across University Drive at the cattle barns.
By then, all the action was on Montgomery Street and Trail Drive west of the Will Rogers complex as trucks and trailers lined up to enter the grounds with squealing pigs and bawling cattle.
Exhibiting at the Stock Show can be just as long a haul in time as it is in distance, said five FFA friends from Blum and Abbott who camped out in their trailer in the Farrington Field parking lot for 22 hours.
Madeline Little, 17, of Abbott reflected on her 10th year of exhibiting at the Stock Show.
“The best things to have overnight are a heater, two pairs of socks and an electric blanket,” she advised. Despite the long night, Little wore two necklaces and makeup. “I like to dress up,” she explained.
Stock Show people are used to the long waits, which they say can occur at any show.
“That’s the way of stock shows,” said Regina Watkins of Willow Park, who was present to lend support to her nephew from Wichita Falls, who will show barrows. “You hurry up to leave home, and then you wait to get into the show.”
Jason Castle and Hunter Lynn, both 18 and from Henrietta near Wichita Falls, are showing their two barrows for Midway High School’s FFA. They consider themselves lucky.
“When we got here [at 3 p.m. Monday] they let us in the pens,” Lynn said.
Castle showed a heifer last week, so this is his second Stock Show trip this year.
“Today we’re trying to get everything set up and ready to go,” he said.
The Rogers family of Hamilton has spent most of the last three weeks in Fort Worth involved in Stock Show events. The family’s veteran status showed in the two clean Hereford steers they were brushing out in stalls by 10 a.m. Tuesday.
“These are probably the first two steers that have had a bath,” said Cindy Rogers. “I don’t like ’em dirty, and after 24 hours in a trailer, they’re dirty.”
She was first in the washing stall with the steers during the predawn hours Tuesday, she said.
“I got in line with these two steers at 8:30 Monday morning,” said Keith Rogers, dad of Harley Rogers, 17, of Hamilton High School’s FFA. The family has spent 10 nights straight in lodgings in Fort Worth.
“We went back out to the truck at 4:30 a.m. and the parking lot appeared to be almost full at that point,” he said.
Harley showed a heifer earlier in the show. Her brother Brody was to join the family after a basketball game Tuesday night for the steer judging Thursday and Friday.
“They started letting trailers move about 6:30 a.m.,” Keith Rogers said. “They didn’t let us in the gate until about 7.”
Though the family might be anxious to sleep in their own beds, they want to accomplish what they started, Keith Rogers said.
“If we go home Friday, that’s a disappointment,” he said. “If you go home Saturday, then you’ve made the sale.”
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657