Between 250 and 300 wildlife artists from across the region have converged on Killeen this week for the 2013 Texas Taxidermy Association Inc. Convention and Competition.
The event, held Thursday through Sunday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, will showcase some of the most unique and valuable creations of skin and fur the world has to offer.
On Saturday, the convention will open its doors to the public between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to view exhibits.
“A hodgepodge of wildlife artists, from full-time big shops to people who are just now learning it on their own backyard somewhere” will take part in the event, said Dan McBride, president of the Texas Taxidermy Association.
McBride said the taxidermists enjoy professional critiques and information gathering on new methods in their craft from the industry’s leading artists.
But most important is the chance to build relationships, he added.
“You may find a guy who has an excellent bobcat and six months from now you are doing a bobcat you didn’t know you were going to do,” McBride said.
The main event will be the banquet and awards ceremony Saturday night, where awards will be presented in 15 mounts, including reproduction fish mounts, turkey mounts, elk and the people’s choice award.
“We’ve got categories for world-class judges, white-tail deer, lizards and wildebeests.”
Winning a TTA award can boost a taxidermist’s career significantly.
When TTA held its convention in Killeen in 2011, it was a great success, said Connie Kuehl, director of the Killeen Civic and Convention Center.
“This group has been really great to work with and they end up filling most of the facility,” Kuehl said.
Conventions, such as TTA’s, boost the local economy and increase sales tax and hotel occupancy tax revenues, which feeds the convention and visitors bureau’s budget.
Conservatively, each convention visitor spends $100 per day, Kuehl said.
“When folks come to town, they not only spend their nights in hotels, but they eat out, buy gas. It’s a real boon for the city,” Kuehl said.