More than 100 children put in a lot of time and hard work raising and grooming their animals for the 59th annual Killeen Junior Livestock Show.
The event begins today and continues into the weekend at the Killeen Special Events Center.
The Killeen Junior Livestock Association spent the past 11 months preparing for the show, said Brent Bliton, president.
“We work throughout the year,” he said. “Starting about 45 days after the event, we start planning for the following year.”
Children in grades three through 12 will show a variety of animals, from sheep, goats and cattle to rabbits, chickens and hogs.
Most participants select animals from ranches and farms in the area, with some going out of state to find livestock.
“Typically here in Killeen, it used to be more of a ranching and farming community and now it’s become more of an urban type situation that’s gotten so big, and so many kids around town here haven’t even got to see some of these animals,” Bliton said.
Raising show animals is basically about growing food, Bliton said, and teaching kids valuable life experiences.
“Honestly, we are teaching these kids about where food comes from, and taking care of these animals teaches these kids responsibilities and life lessons learned through the experience,” he said.
Pamela Knapp, Maxdale 4-H Club manager, has been involved in the livestock show for the past 18 years. She also raised animals when she was a child and echoed Bliton’s sentiments about what the livestock show really means to the kids.
“I grew up with this, and the kids need to learn about the animals,” she said. “It’s something different for the kids to get out and experience.”
Participants like Tori Archer, 15, spent Wednesday evening having their animals weighed and placed in their specific classifications for the show. Archer said she enjoys the livestock show experience because it’s fun to see “everyone out here doing what they like to do. It’s awesome.”
This is the third year Archer has brought rabbits to compete. Last year, she was the grand champion, and the year before that, she placed sixth. Although she’s not a newcomer, she still gets nervous when her rabbits are judged.
Bliton invites everyone in the community to show their support for the kids competing at the livestock show. The winning animals will be auctioned Saturday, giving participants the chance to turn a profit for their hard work.
“From several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per exhibitor ... it can be a very lucrative deal for these kids,” Bliton said. “They use the money to invest in future projects for the years to come, as well as save money for college education.”