Justin Heap is no newcomer to stock shows.
Last year, the 18-year-old Alvord High school senior took home a couple of large prizes from the Fort Worth Stock Show. He won more than $12,000 after placing second in his class with an Angus steer.
“The competition at Fort Worth is extremely high,” Heap said. “It feels great to win there. It’s a lot bigger.”
Justin also caught a calf in the scramble there last year, which earned him $500. That money went toward a heifer he entered into this year’s show, which runs through Feb. 9. The heifer, Millie, placed fifth at the show recently.
Heap has been showing animals in stock shows and youth fairs since he was in third grade. This is his last year, and he hopes to win big again. Thursday or Friday he’ll be showing his steer.
“I think I have a good chance,” he said.
His mother, Angela Tallon, said Justin has a remarkable way with animals.
“He’s very calm and laid-back when he’s showing,” she said. “His calmness keeps the animals calm and that’s important when showing.”
“I love being around animals and showing animals,” Heap said. “It’s something I grew up doing and something I will continue to do.”
Caring and raising animals for the stock show teaches children some important lessons.
“Showing animals teaches responsibility,” Tallon said. “It teaches showmanship and leadership.”
Although this is Justin’s last year to show, the tradition will continue in the family with his younger brother Hunter Tallon, 15.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Tallon said of Justin’s last year showing. “I think it’s going to hit me next year when it’s just Hunter showing.”
Justin said he plans to enroll in school at Tarleton State University or Midwestern State University or enter firefighter training after he graduates this year.