Pam Harder’s still recovering from last weekend’s trip to San Antonio. That’s where her daughter Ashley was with her fellow ag mechanics competitors in the annual project show. And Ashley did quite well for herself, earning first in her class for her three-point backhoe.
But there was no time to rest. She had to return to class Monday. And hold down a job. And do the last bits of preparation for tonight’s goat show at the Northeast Texas Livestock Association’s Junior Market Livestock Show.
“She’s had the goat going, the backhoe going, she tries to work,” said Pam Harder. “And we’re not the only parents who have that. Lots of parents have that.”
That would include some 256 other parents whose offspring have entered more than 300 certified projects in this weekend’s junior stock show, the annual event put on by the Northeast Texas Livestock Association.
Participation in the annual show goes far beyond the exhibitors and their families, however — far more than could be listed.
“You have the buyers, you’ve got the people who donate add-on money, you’ve got the people who donate animals,” Harder said. “There are so many people who’ve had a hand in making this program successful, and all for the kids who participate in it. And it changes constantly.”
The show begins today and continues through Saturday, with the stew and chili supper for project buyers at 5 p.m. Saturday, followed by the Sale of Champions at 6 p.m., when bidders and donors combine to pay handsomely for the work of the exhibitors.
The show set an astounding record with 135 sale lots in 2006, the first year the Sale of Champions topped the $200,000 mark. It was a tremendous increase from just a few years before, when barely half as many students took part, and the prize money was a fourth of what it is today.
Last year, however, was an even bigger stunner, with $267,567 generated for the 131 sale lots that made the Sale of Champions.
The incredible amount of money generated for the students — money that often goes toward college funds — would not be possible without the conributions, both big and small, of the people who donate money to the sale.
“Some people don’t know if they can afford a whole project,” said NETLA member Eddie Lampp. “They can call NETLA or just show up at the buyer’s supper and we can have them added to a pool. If they want to do $100, $200, $500, whatever they want to do. Every little bit helps.
“And there are numerous people who like to give just a little bit, so we’ve also got the add-on process,” Lampp added. “They can come out to the Civic Center or just call us, and if they want to give $15 or $20 or $50 or $100, we’ll just add it on to projects.”
Some people want to help but are scared away by the prospect of having to deal with an animal.
“I know there are a lot of people that think, ‘What would I do with a pig if I bought one?’” Lampp said.
For one, he explained, they don’t have to take the animal home if they just want to make a donation.
“If they do not want the animal, we credit them back with whatever the floor price is on the animal,” Lampp explained. “If they bid $500 for an animal and didn’t want to keep it, and floor price is $100, we’ll take that off their sale, and the $400 would go to the kids for their project.
“Of course, if they want to keep the animal and have it processed, they’re more than welcome to do that,” Lampp added. “They’ll just have to pay the full bid amount.”
In fact, Northeast Texas Livestock Association members and the exhibitors will go the extra mile to help in that instance, Lampp added.
“We have slots reserved at the Hopkins County Food Locker for buyers,” Lampp said. “We’ll take care of it and take it to the locker plant for them. They won’t even have to see it until it’s time to pick it up.”
The exhibitors are aware that if a buyer wants to keep the animal, the student may have to take the project home and feed it for a week or two, then take it to the locker plant. When the time comes, the buyers will be contacted by a representative of the locker plant for details on how to process the animal.
Anyone that wants to participate in the sale can call NETLA at 903-439-5308; Lampp at 903-885-6323; Frank Long at 903-885-7800; Dannie Johnson at 903-885-2158; Brad Johnson at 903-885-3143; or the Agri-Life Extension office, 1200 Houston St. at 903-885-3443.
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