Bill Belew is the president of the Runnels County Junior Livestock Show committee, which has a total of 12 board members. Belew has been on the committee for several years and has worked with the committee, youth and community to provide a positive experience for all of the youth who enter the Runnels County Junior Livestock Show, “There is something for every level of expertise and budget for the youth to participate in.”
This year Belew says that there will be approximately 110 entries in the show. The categories for the livestock show are; heifers; sheep & goats; rabbits; swine (market & breeding); steer. The show isn’t a “terminal show,” meaning that the youth get to keep their animals once the show is over.
The youth are awarded cash from a premium sale along with buckles, banners and ribbons, depending on where they finish in their respective categories. The premium sale raises money for all of the youth because the money is awarded based on a points system. For example: a youth who raises a steer and wins Grand Champion will receive more money than a youth who raises a rabbit and wins Grand Champion. It’s a simple issue of economics; it costs more to raise a steer than a rabbit. Belew says that the money for the prizes comes from the individuals and businesses within the community, “We receive a lot of support from the communities. Last year we raised $104,000 and this year we raised $110,000. A lot of people don’t realize the cost and work involved to put an event like this on.”
As always, the show will be held at the Ballinger Community Center. The use of the community center is donated free of charge for the livestock show. Belew says that the livestock show committee and volunteers have done a great deal of work at the community center, “We’ve spent a lot of money in the show barn on equipment, insulation and painting. We’ve also put tin along the bottom of the walls.” For all of the work involved and the sheer numbers of volunteers needed to make it all happen, Belew that it all works out well, “Everything runs smooth. We’ve got volunteers that help and make the sure that the show goes smoothly. We’ve been doing this for about 20 years and have about 40 volunteers. A lot times we get families who have an older kid entered in the show and the younger sibling will help hand out ribbons.”
Belew says that raising an animal to show and participating in the show itself is a positive experience and helps the youth, “It’s a great learning experience. It teaches the kids responsibility and hopefully that experience translates into production agriculture at some point. The county show is really neat because it gives the kids a chance to get involved and who may not have the opportunity to show at places like Ft. Worth, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or Austin.”
The livestock show committee starts planning the following show almost immediately after the current show ends, “We start planning for the next show once this year’s show is over. Our first meeting is the last week in February because there aren’t any shows going on that week.” Belew also says that the committee always seeks recommendations and advice, “We seek feedback from the parents and participants to improve the show. We try to make sure every kid has a good experience. The board members don’t get paid, the volunteers step in to help and it’s a community effort.”
Belew says that the judges for this year’s livestock show are: Nick Randy for swine; Chris Bears for rabbits; Gary Clayton for cattle and Josh Kouns for sheep. There are 35 entries in steer; 15 heifers; 100 swine (combined); 95 goats and sheep and 50 rabbits.
Belew says that the livestock show would be impossible without the help of the community and sponsors, “We really appreciate everyone’s support, whether financial or just their presence. It doesn’t matter who buys an animal, every penny goes to the kids. Every kid gets a portion of the money.”
Belew says that there will be a noon meal served on Saturday before the premium sale. The cost of the meal is a donation and that there is no set amount.