Beef, lamb, goat and swine were on the menu at the 22nd annual Holiday Classic Prospect Show on Saturday and Sunday at the Bell County Expo Center.
Children ages 9 to 19 involved in the 4-H Club and the FFA from 20 counties were invited to participate in the event, which kicked off with a day of educational clinics, including coaching in the proper methods of care and showmanship for each of the breeds.
Excitement was in the air Sunday, as the exhibitors showed the animals that many of them had been training all year.
“It’s market judging,” said Lyle Zoeller, the county extension agent of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, the organization that hosted the show. Judges are looking for muscle in the animals, as well as sound body structure.
“You want a good quality meat product,” he said, “because they will end up on your dinner table.”
On one side of the animal barn, judging of the steers and goats took place early in the day.
The children working with steers scratched the bellies of the animals with long metal prods.
“It calms them down and relaxes them,” said participant Allison Brinkman, 11, of Belton.
Boys and girls wearing cowboy boots and decorative belt buckles led the animals around their respective arenas.
For 10-year-old Meredith Mikeska, the best part of the shows is “getting to mess around with animals and play in the dirt.”
Like many contestants, she has been working with farm animals for the majority of her life in Rogers, and travels as far as Houston and San Antonio to compete in shows.
Josiah Whatley, 14, of Temple, shows goats. His family owns more than 60 goats on their farm, and it is his fourth year showing them.
The past two years, he was the grand champion in the breeding doe category, and looks forward to the prize money that goes to the winners.
On the other side of the barn, lambs and hogs were shown.
Kelley Ranly, 15, shows both lambs and goats, but she prefers lambs, as they are bigger and easier to work with.
She’s been showing animals for seven years, out of her home in Troy.
“The hardest part is getting them to do what you ask them to,” she said. “But it’s really rewarding to win after you put so much work into it.”
Erin Steglich, 13, of Holland, loves the feeling of being in the ring and knowing there’s a chance to win. But the most difficult part is giving up the animals at the end, she said.
The event was a family affair for many, with siblings and cousins showing in the same categories. Erin showed alongside her brother and sister.