BALLINGER - For Marcus Toliver his brother Eric and sister Emma, preparing for the annual Runnels County Junior Livestock Show is a year-round family project.

BALLINGER - For Marcus Toliver his brother Eric and sister Emma, preparing for the annual Runnels County Junior Livestock Show is a year-round family project.

Marcus, a junior at Ballinger High School and Eric, a freshman and Emma, an eighth grader, are raising steers which they will show at the 17th Annual Runnels County Junior Livestock Show which gets underway Friday and continues through Saturday.

The Tolivers are among the 95 exhibitors who have entered more than 300 entries in the livestock show this year. Entries come from Ballinger, Miles and Winters FFA groups as well as the Runnels County 4-H organizations.

The event is held at the Ballinger Community Center and will include shows for

“We have some of the best livestock in the state,” said Curt Skelton, president of the Runnels County Junior Livestock Association, which is a major sponsor of the event, along with other businesses, organizations and individuals. “Our kids go on to be very competitive at the state level.”

The Toliver kids will be showing Brangus, Hereford and Charolais steers this year.

Tending to the steers and making them show-ready, is a seven-a-week job. The steers are kept at a barn which the family rents from a friend.

“We start off our morning and my dad will go out there and make sure they have plenty of water and feed,” Marcus explained. “We wash and dry them one or two days a week.”

All of the Toliver kids have to divide their time between tending to their livestock and extracurricular activities. Marcus plays basketball, baseball and runs track, Eric plays football, basketball, baseball and runs track and Emma is also in basketball and track.

No matter what, Marcus, who plans to major in agribusiness at Texas Tech, says raising the animals is a learning experience.

“Treating an animal is liking treating yourself and it teaches me responsibility,” Marcus said. “It is just like taking care of yourself, you have to do that and make time for it even when you have other plans - i's not all fun and roses.”

The Tolivers, who are involved in Runnels County 4-H, will go on to compete in shows in Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Houston. The funds raised from each competition, help pay for the livestock and give the Toliver kids opportunities to apply for college scholarships.

And for Joseph and Caroline Toliver, the annual stock show trips are definitely a family affair.

“It teaches them responsibility it give us the experience to travel around as a family,” Caroline said.

Tylan Long, the agricultural science teacher at Ballinger High School, also heads up FFA and has been helping his students and FFA members get ready for the upcoming show. He oversees the hogs that are housed at the BISD project barns. This year, the barns have had a facelift thanks to some donations from AgriPlex including the placement of a wall at the barns, lighting and a sand-filled pen to work the hogs in.

“We have had a lot of support from the community,” Long said. “Because of that we’ve had some growth in the numbers (of hog projects).”

Long and fellow ag teacher Tyler Frey, have been working to get the grounds ready at the Community Center as well.

“We have the facility ready the grounds and everything are ready to go,” Long explained. “The projects are going really well.”

Eighth grader Briley Clinton and his brother, Brady, who’s in the fifth grade, are both showing pigs this year.

“I’ve always shown pigs,” said Briley who will be showing a Cross and a Hamp this year.

In years past, Briley has won grand and reserve championships.

“I like the competition and showing the pigs (to judges),” Briley said. “We have a lot of good showers in Ballinger and Runnels County and I always want to improve my skills.”

Brady will be showing a Berkshire and a Cross this year. Both have been raising their animals at the BISD barns.

“It’s fun and you learn a lot of stuff,” Brady said.

Their mother, Crystal Clinton, said for them it is always a family project and they will go on to shows in Fort Worth and beyond.

“We have great experiences as a family at the stock shows,” Crystal said. “We win as a family and we lose as a family.”

Justin Sehon, a senior at BHS and an FFA member and his sister Paige, a fifth grader, are both raising pigs at the barns. The Sehons are from China Springs in McLennan County, where they competed in stock shows.

Justin has named his pigs - “Hera” is the Chester and “Hercules” is the Berkshire.

“I find that naming them builds a better bond with them.”

Seventh grader Korey Cavazos agrees. She has a Duroc named “Maria” and a Cross named “Chola.”

“I like the pigs because they are different from goats,” she said. “I like feeding them at bucket time.”

Paige Sehon agreed.

“I like hanging out and loving on them so much,” Paige said. “I just love animals so much.”

The 17th Annual Runnels County Junior Livestock Show begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday, with the Swine Show, followed by the Rabbit Show, Meat Goat Show and Sheep Show. On Saturday, the Cattle Show begins at 9:30 a.m. with the meal from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and the Premium Sale at 2 p.m.