Fair has heart: Special needs exhibitors shine in show ring

Fair has heart: Special needs exhibitors shine in show ring

Youth Fair exhibitors and parents were trying to thaw out following a winter storm during the 63rd annual event last week, but what happened Friday evening warmed their hearts.

New Experience

NEW EXPERIENCE – Jesse Benavidez smiles broadly as Brandon McComis pushes him into the show ring last Friday at the Heart of a Champion Show. Dustin Meadows leads a goat for Benavidez, and Mason McComis (far left) and Aiden Cantrell lend their support. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The first Heart of a Champion livestock show for special needs children and adults drew a huge crowd and allowed families from all walks of life to share a moment in the spotlight.

Charli Franks, who is active with Wise County Special Needs Baseball and Outward Adventures, said the show was “spectacular.”

Show of Emotion

SHOW OF EMOTION – Courtney Boyd of Bowie screams in excitement after being given her rosette during the Heart of a Champion Show at the Wise County Youth Fair last week. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“Every one of the guys and gals thought it was the biggest Youth Fair there ever was in the whole United States,” Franks said. “It may not mean a lot to some people, but it meant the world to them.”

Franks’ son, Jason Franks, showed a pig with the help of his brother, Michael Franks and niece Edyee.

The show was the result of a brainstorming session between sisters – Lyndi Luttrull, Lauryn Luttrull and Shelby Bradshaw – but more than 200 volunteers participated to give the special exhibitors a taste of the livestock show life.

Lisa Bradshaw, Lauryn and Lyndi’s mom, said 48 exhibitors showed either a pig, goat, rabbit or dog.

Leading the Way

LEADING THE WAY – Nicholas Allison leads a dog into the show ring at the Wise County Heart of a Champion Show Friday evening. Keaton Vawter pushed Allison into the arena, and Brianna McKeever assisted with the dog. Also pictured is Lauren Stowers. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I think in the hustle and bustle of the Youth Fair, the fact that everyone stopped and did something for others was very meaningful to the girls and [my husband] Steve and I,” she said.

Steve is an ag teacher in Paradise ISD and Shelby’s dad.

“That lifestyle of showing and getting kids to this meeting and that meeting … we take that for granted,” Lisa said. “We gave those kids and their families a taste of what that was like. The smiles on their faces and the hugs, it was awesome.”

Exhibitors were helped in the show ring by 4-H and FFA youth volunteers. Every exhibitor was announced as they entered the ring, and everyone received a rosette.

Unbridled Excitement

UNBRIDLED EXCITEMENT – Shaina Beavers of Decatur is excited to enter the arena with a hog at the Heart of a Champion Show last week. Zane Hickey pushed her wheelchair while Shelby Bradshaw (left) and Carson Read walked the pig. Also pictured is Gracie Oates. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I would see the guys and gals walk in with their ribbons. It was just like they had won a gold medal or the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Franks, recalling the excitement she witnessed.

Every exhibitor was greeted with wild applause and had their photo taken in front of the Youth Fair banner.

Gary Cox of Alvord said his daughter, Madison, 9, loved interacting with the animals and was proud to have her cousins – Hayden and Caleb Bennett – help her in the show ring.

“She was real proud of that ribbon,” Cox said with a laugh. “She wouldn’t let anyone hold it.”

All in the Family

ALL IN THE FAMILY – Madison Cox, 9, of Alvord shows a goat with the help of her cousins, Caleb and Hayden Bennett, as well as friend Caraline Cowdrey, all of Decatur. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

NBC news anchor Deborah Ferguson, who was one of the announcers, stopped exhibitor Courtney Bond of Bowie, and Bond barely gave her time to ask a question before taking over the microphone.

“First off, I want to thank God and thank everyone for realizing we’re like everyone else, just extra special,” Bond said.

Lyndi Luttrull said her overriding feeling afterward was “it actually worked.”

Show Time

SHOW TIME – David Ross clutches a rabbit while Sequoia Smith pushes him into the arena at the Wise County Fairgrounds Friday. Also assisting Ross were Leslie Robbins and Seth Byers. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

She had the chance to sit alone in the stands and just watch a few minutes of the show.

“It sounds silly, but I just sat by myself and cried,” she said. “To see it all come together was awesome and to see the community come together in that way was remarkable.”

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Back-to-back titles: Family, community support play role in Rector’s success at Youth Fair

Back-to-back titles: Family, community support play role in Rector’s success at Youth Fair

Last Friday, moments after her steer was named grand champion at the Wise County Youth Fair, Haley Rector looked up into the stands and saw her dad jump up in excitement.

It was an unexpected emotional moment for the Paradise High School senior.

Entering the Ring

ENTERING THE RING – Haley Rector enters the arena Saturday to sell her grand champion steer at the Wise County Youth Fair Auction. Rector also earned grand champion honors for a steer she showed at last year’s fair. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I almost started crying because this will be the last time I’ll ever show here,” Rector said.

Showing livestock has been part of her life since kindergarten, she said, and now she’s both excited and nervous to be reaching the end of her FFA career.

And she’s finishing strong, with her steers named grand champions at back-to-back Wise County Youth Fairs.

It’s a long way from her first show, at the State Fair of Texas, when she was in third grade, she said.

“I had a Hereford, and I showed him backwards,” she said. “You face toward the judge when you hold the stick, and I was facing toward the stands. My dad was trying to wave at me to turn around. I didn’t know what he was doing, and then the judge told me I needed to turn around.”

Earlier in her show career, she showed both steers and pigs, but in recent years she decided to just focus on steers.

“Pigs are really stressful because they always scream at you whenever you feed them,” she explained. “Cows don’t do that.”

Rector said she really wanted to win this year for her dad, Mark Rector. She explained how her dad gets up early each day to feed the animals before heading to school to teach agriculture classes at Paradise ISD. After school, she would feed the animals.

Including Rector’s wins in 2014 and 2015, the Paradise student has shown the grand champion steer in five of the past 10 Wise County Youth Fairs.

She credits a strong FFA program and a neighborly attitude for helping to explain the success.

“I want to say that over half of the students from third grade to high school have some type of FFA project,” she said. “We have really good ag teachers, too, that are really involved, and they are always there supporting us. My dad is the ag teacher, and he’ll get calls at 9 or 10 at night where someone’s calf is bloated and he’ll go out there and try to help it. Mr. (Steve) Bradshaw is over the pigs, and it’s the same thing. If someone calls at night, he’ll go out there and help them.”

This year Rector has shown at Fort Worth and San Antonio, and she will finish her show career with shows in Houston and Austin over the next couple of weeks.

But there is nothing quite like the local show ring where her dad, sister, aunts and cousins all put their hard work on display over the years.

That’s part of what made Friday’s win so special.

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Auction total tops $200,000

Bidders spent $214,000 Saturday on 129 4-H, FFA and FCCLA projects at the Wise County Youth Fair Auction.

The grand champion steer, shown by Haley Rector of Paradise FFA, sold for $11,000 while the reserve champion steer raised by Cassady Craddock of Bridgeport 4-H brought $6,500.

The 16 champion lots brought $51,050 with 15 going to the Champions and Blue Ribbon Club.

Ridge Reynolds with Decatur FFA sold the grand champion hog for $5,500, and Rebecca Lambert with Paradise Jr. FFA sold the grand champion lamb for $5,000.

The champion market wether, exhibited by Dustin Meadows of Paradise FFA, also drew $5,000. Cale Laaser with Decatur 4-H sold his champion poultry for $1,000, while Karah Buckner with Decatur 4-H got $1,300 for the top rabbits.

The overall grand champion food entries for 4-H and FCCLA sold for $750 each. Alvord 4-Her Madelyn Causey sold a scratch cake, and Whitney Stapleton with Chico FCCLA sold a creative cake.

The grand champion ag mechanics project – a barbecue trailer built by Boyd FFA – brought $2,500.

Reserve champion projects included:

  • Shelby Drews, Decatur FFA, hog, $4,500
  • Chelsea Arlington, Boyd FFA, goat, $4,000
  • Brady Quarles, Decatur 4-H, poultry, $750
  • Ryan Hudgins, Slidell, junior 4-H foods, $500
  • Kelsi McKelvain, Alvord, FCCLA foods, $500
  • Decatur FFA, ag mechanics (restored tractor), $1,500

The total number of projects from each community included: Decatur with 39; Paradise, 26; Bridgeport, 16; Boyd, 15; Chico, 12; Alvord, 11; Slidell, 6; and Wise County 4-H, 4.

A complete list of Youth Fair results will be published in a special section March 18.

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Old Man Winter strikes again; Winter weather puts a freeze on the fair

Slushing through the snow Thursday morning, Tessa Luster knew her final Wise County Youth Fair would be one she wouldn’t forget.

“I’ve been showing since I was in third grade and don’t remember snow,” Luster said. “I remember a tornado.

“My toes are pretty frozen.”

Braving the Cold

BRAVING THE COLD – Tessa Luster (left) and Dustin Davis, both with Paradise FFA, try to stay warm while taking care of animals at the Wise County Youth Fair Thursday morning. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Luster and other exhibitors worked through the snow, ice and cold Thursday morning the best they could to feed and prepare their pigs, lambs, goats and rabbits for the day’s show that was delayed by two hours.

Three-and-a-half inches of snow fell in Decatur Wednesday night, turning the Wise County Fairgrounds into a wintry canvas.

“It’s a surprise,” said Blaine Gibson, who was helping his sister Kaitlyn with her pigs. “The pigs were more agitated, and you can’t wash them.”

With the water turned off Thursday morning, Luster said she and others were adjusting using baby wipes on their animals.

Winter Walk

WINTER WALK – A Wise County youth leads their steer across the fairgrounds at the Youth Fair Thursday morning. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Exhibitors were taking extra steps to keep their animals warm and safe in the freezing temperatures.

“They don’t like the cold,” Landon Sharp of Paradise said about the pigs. “You have to put down more shavings.”

Some of the parents of the exhibitors stayed at the Wise County Fairgrounds overnight Wednesday to tend to the animals and make sure they stayed warm.

J.D. Pierce of Bridgeport said they elected to stay in Decatur to make sure they didn’t have any issues on the roads Thursday morning.

“It wouldn’t be a stock show if we didn’t have weather like this,” Pierce joked.

Boyd senior Chelsea Arlington wasn’t laughing watching over her goats. Arlington, a standout on the Lady Yellowjackets’ softball team, voiced her displeasure with the winter weather that had canceled games and now disrupted the Youth Fair.

“It’s depressing,” Arlington said. “It’s tough, especially for the goats. As you can tell, they are freezing.”

By midmorning Thursday, the bright sun began melting the snow and warming spirits around the fairgrounds as the day’s show began and ribbons were awarded.

Only a few patches of snow and large puddles remained of the wintry mess by late afternoon. But for Luster and others, it’s another memory to take with them.

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Back in the show ring; Teen survives harrowing crash, recovers in time for fair

The snow on the ground or the bitter cold couldn’t wipe the smile from Kaitlyn Gibson’s face as she walked from the barn on the Wise County Fairgrounds Thursday morning.

“A little cold never killed anyone,” Gibson said.

Road to Recovery

ROAD TO RECOVERY – After suffering a broken back in a car accident Jan. 28, Kaitlyn Gibson returned to the arena Thursday to show her pigs at the Wise County Youth Fair. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

However, she readily admitted that her two pigs and steer were better handling the Youth Fair’s wintry conditions.

“They adapt better, and I have a fractured spine from a car accident, so I’d say they are holding up much better,” said Gibson, wearing a back brace under her letter jacket.

Gibson was released from the doctor Tuesday just in time for the show.

“My brother [Blaine] and mom [Robyn] are helping me push through this,” Gibson explained. “This means a lot. I’m truly blessed.”

On Jan. 28, the Paradise sophomore was headed home from softball practice on Schoolhouse Road.

“I had a bloody nose and was trying to hurry home,” she recalled.

But she never made it, crashing her Ford F250 after losing control.

“I don’t remember being ejected. I woke up on the ground,” Gibson said. “I was in shock at first.”

She was taken by ambulance to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth with multiple injuries, including a broken back, cheekbone and a cut on top of her head that required 16 stitches.

While hurt severely, she fortunately escaped any longterm injuries. After an initial stint in intensive care, Gibson spent three more days in the hospital before returning home on Super Bowl Sunday.

Though her body was broken from the wreck, her spirit wasn’t. Doctors originally told her that on top of not being able to play softball and cheer at basketball games, she wouldn’t be able to show.

“I was told I was done for,” Gibson said.

But getting healthy enough to make it to the arena by the Youth Fair was a carrot for which she continued to reach. As her father Scott explained, that probably sped up her recovery.

“Her motivation was being able to show,” he said.

While she was recovering, other Paradise FFA members stepped up to help care for her animals.

“My chapter helped in every way possible,” Gibson said. “There were so many people helping to walk my pigs and clean out the pig pens. I couldn’t be more grateful for what everyone was willing to do.”

Scott Gibson echoed his daughter’s gratitude.

“We couldn’t have done it without the support of the FFA and Mr. [Steve] Bradshaw,” he said. “They helped pitch in while she was in the hospital and recovering.”

Though she was back at the barn Thursday, Gibson was still limited and relied on family members for help.

“I can’t bend over or lift anything over 15 pounds,” Gibson said. “If it wasn’t for my brother I wouldn’t be here today.”

Mrs. Gibson kept an eye on her daughter Thursday as she fed her pigs. But she also trusted she would be careful.

“She knows what she can and can’t do,” Mrs. Gibson said.

Just being back in the arena and showing was a small victory for her. But she took some top prizes, too, winning a first and second place with her pigs.

“I was very ecstatic to make the sale with both [pigs],” Gibson said. “From a month ago, being in ICU to this, I’d so say ‘no way.’ It’s truly amazing.

“I’m here and love it. Praise God that I had an angel sitting on my shoulder that day.”

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Youth Fair events start Saturday

The 2015 Wise County Youth Fair kicks off Saturday in downtown Decatur and runs through March 7 at the Wise County Fairgrounds.

The 63rd annual event will start with a parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, to raise awareness of the fair and encourage families to visit the show. Organizer James Hubbard said Tuesday the threat of inclement weather could cancel the parade, but that decision had not yet been made as of press time Tuesday.

Watching the Show

WATCHING THE SHOW – Youngsters line the edge of the arena at the Wise County Youth Fair horse show. The 63rd annual event will feature livestock shows, as well as craft, baking, photography, horticulture and ag mechanics contests. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Lineup starts at 9 a.m. on Business 81/287 at Sandford Oil in Decatur. The parade starts at 10 a.m., and it will travel west on Walnut Street, south on Lane Street and east on Main Street to return to the start.

This will be the first Youth Fair parade held in several decades. Other events new to the fair in 2015 include a livestock judging contest at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 7, and the Heart of a Champion Show for special needs youth and adults 5 p.m. Friday, March 6.

The traditional lineup of fair events includes the Youth Fair Queens Contest, featuring 4-H, FFA and FCCLA contestants from across the county, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Women’s Building on the fairgrounds. (See this week’s All Around Wise for profiles of each contestant.)

The horse show is 8:30 a.m. Monday and continues Tuesday at the NRS Arena south of Decatur. Shows at the fairgrounds start Tuesday at 8 a.m. with the broilers, followed by breeding poultry; breeding dairy goats at 10 a.m.; the Longhorn show at 2 p.m. and breeding swine at 4 p.m.

The 4-H Parade of Fashion is 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Market lambs show at 8 a.m. Wednesday, followed by the dog show at 10 a.m.

On Thursday, the market swine show starts at 7:30 a.m., and meat pen rabbits, followed by breeding rabbits are at 8 a.m. The market goat show is 2 p.m., and the Women’s Building will open at 5 p.m. to view 4-H, FCCLA and horticulture exhibits.

On Friday, the prospect steer show is at 8 a.m., followed by the market steer show and naming of the grand champion steer. The breeding beef heifer show starts at 1 p.m., and the agricultural mechanics contest will be judged beginning at noon.

On Saturday, the pet show is at 10 a.m. A barbecue meal will be served 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and awards will be presented in the arena at 12:30. The grand finale, the Youth Fair Auction, begins at 1 p.m.


A youth rodeo will be held Friday, March 6, and Saturday, March 7, at the rodeo arena at the Wise County Fairgrounds. Gates open at 6 p.m., and the rodeo starts at 7 p.m. Books will be open 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, March 2. To enter, call 405-238-0212.

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Youth Fair Queens: 2015 Wise County 4-H contestants

Alvord 4-H


Shelby Lynn Simmons, 17, of Alvord is the daughter of Shawn and Missy Simmons. She represents the Alvord 4-H Club. She has served her club as secretary and the health and safety officer.

Shelby is also a member of Alvord FFA, Alvord FCCLA and Spanish Club. She enjoys photography, showing livestock and crafting. Her interests include horses and animal science.

Shelby’s favorite subject is English, and her favorite friend is Emily Burdine.

Shelby is a member of Alvord Baptist Church.

Boyd 4-H


Kate Hill, 16, of Boyd is the daughter of Wade and Treva Anderson. She represents the Boyd 4-H Club.

Kate is a fourth generation farmer and stockman who is active not only in 4-H, but also Boyd FFA. She is also a member of the Junior Santa Gertrudis Association, Junior American Angus Association and Junior Beefmaster Breeders United. She’s on the Boyd FFA steer and heifer show teams and is on the 2015 equine judging team.

Kate showed the 2014 champion American breed steer at the Wise County Youth Fair, and in 2013, she showed the reserve champion Santa Gertrudis heifer at the Delaney Mancil Memorial Buckle Show.

Kate also participates in 4-H photography. She’s the lead photographer and web design editor for the Boyd High School yearbook and has a 4.0 grade point average.

Kate has received awards of excellence in art, math and science, and her favorite subjects are art II and web design. She was a medal winner at the V.A.S.E. art contest with a charcoal piece.

Her hobbies include playing guitar, hunting with her dad, camping, riding horses and baking with her mom.

She is also interested in leather tooling, animation, music, veterinary science and raising cattle.

Kate is a member of the First Baptist Church in Boyd and its youth group.

Bridgeport 4-H


Molly Johanson, 9, of Bridgeport is the daughter of Mike and Jana Johanson. She represents the Bridgeport 4-H Club.

Molly has been the health and safety officer of her club and in that role, gave a presentation about eating well and exercising during the holidays. She also gave a presentation to her club about planting flowers and growing your own food.

This is only her second year in 4-H, and she said she’d like to be the Youth Fair queen to attend all the fair events and meet other 4-Hers.

“I would like to see all the animals, too,” she said. “I might see something that I would like to try next year. I am friendly and would try to make people who did not win feel better.”

This year Molly is showing a blue broken Holland Lop named Fuzz, and she hopes to get a horse. Her other pets include a Basset Hound named Boudreaux, Ollie the cat, a hedgehog named Leonardo and a guinea pig, Cocoa.

Her favorite hobby is reading, and she was recognized as the top reader in her grade the last two years. She also received gold medals for academic excellence for having the highest grade point average in her class the last two years.

Molly competes in UIL events, including ready writing, creative writing, number sense and music memory. She also made the art smart and spelling teams.

She takes piano lessons and was a pee wee cheerleader last fall. She also enjoys art, cooking and playing games on computers, iPads and iPhones.

Her best friends are Ariel and Jayden, and she enjoys soccer, softball and swim.

Science is her favorite subject, and in her free time, she hangs out with her sisters, who are in high school.

“We like to cook, go places, watch TV, play board games and put puzzles together,” she said.

Molly attends Grace Fellowship Church in Paradise and volunteers in the pre-kindergarten class. She attends the Power Zone youth service and also goes to the Kid Life Group Bible study. During the summer, she attends PZ Camp and Camp Copass.

Chico 4-H


Brianna McKeever, 11, of Chico is the daughter of Jeff and Cherie McKeever. She represents the Chico 4-H Club and is currently serving as the third vice president.

Brianna is also involved in the dog project group and received high point junior and grand champion in the dog show at the Wise County Youth Fair. She also won grand champion with her art project.

Brianna enjoys training her dog and taking care of her cows and chickens. She’s particularly interested in teaching her dog agility, obedience and conformation.

She’s also learning to play the violin and taking art classes.

Brianna’s favorite friend is Bandi Leverett, and her favorite sport is swimming. She enjoys studying history and the Bible.

Brianna is a member of the First Baptist Church in Alvord.

Paradise 4-H


Kelby Meadows, 18, of Paradise is the daughter of Ronnie and Dianne Meadows. She represents the Paradise 4-H Club. Kelby has been the club’s parliamentarian and county council delegate. She’s also a member of Paradise FFA, Santa Gertrudis Breeders International and Texas Longhorn Breeders of Tomorrow.

She’s won numerous reserve grand champion awards while showing her Santa Gertrudis and Longhorn heifers. In addition to studying agriculture, Kelby also enjoys dairy judging, beachcombing and color guard. She’s a member of the Paradise Panther Band and the Silhouette Dance competition team.

Kelby’s favorite friends are Sara Kelley and Bailey Higgins, and her favorite sport is volleyball. She’s been on mission trips to San Antonio, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Decatur 4-H


Lyndi Luttrull, 16, of Decatur is the daughter of Steve and Lisa Bradshaw and Joey and Wayla Luttrull. She represents the Decatur 4-H Club.

She is committee co-chairman for the Heart of a Champion show, a livestock show for special needs youth and adults, and has held numerous 4-H offices, including District 3 4-H second vice president, Wise County 4-H Council secretary, Wise County 4-H Council president and Decatur 4-H Club president.

Lyndi has won numerous awards throughout her 4-H career, including the Wise County 4-H Bronze Star, Wise County 4-H Silver Star and Wise County 4-H Danforth I Dare You award. She was the State Fair of Texas public speaking animal science reserve grand champion and was the high point individual in the District 3 4-H consumer decision making contest.

Lyndi has qualified for State 4-H Roundup in the food show, clothing and textiles buying and food challenge.

Most recently, Lyndi was the fourth high individual at the consumer decision making contest at the San Antonio Livestock Show and on the Wise County team that placed sixth. She also made the sale at San Antonio last month with her third-place swine.

In addition to Decatur 4-H, Lyndi is also a member of Decatur FFA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Council and National Junior Honor Society.

Her FFA activities include serving as Decatur FFA secretary and being on the livestock judging team, senior chapter conducting team and radio team. She was also named Decatur FFA STAR Greenhand and District 1 FFA STAR Greenhand. She placed seventh in Texas FFA Jr. Prepared Speaking.

Lyndi said in addition to showing pigs, public speaking and livestock judging, she also enjoys studying agriculture business.

“My favorite friends are the ones I meet through 4-H and FFA because they have the same lifestyle as I do,” she said.

Lyndi’s favorite subject is chemistry, because it’s math and science combined, and her favorite sport is college football.

Lyndi is also active at Decatur Church of Christ and has volunteered at Gear Up, a free school supply event; the Helping Hands clothing closet; and as a VBS assistant. She has also gone Christmas caroling with the youth group.

Slidell/Greenwood 4-H


Brittney Nicole Bland, 14, of Greenwood is the daughter of Benny Bland and Susan Bland. She represents the Slidell/Greenwood 4-H Club.

Brittney has served her club as reporter, and she’s also been responsible for calling members to remind them of meetings. She shows sheep, and her goal is to make the Youth Fair sale.

In addition to showing sheep, she also enjoys riding horses and playing basketball. She hopes to become a starter on the Slidell basketball team.

Her favorite friend is her dad.

“He’s always there to back me up and help me out with my sheep and school work,” she said.

Brittney’s favorite subject is communications, and she’s working hard to make all A’s to get into honors classes. Her goal is to go to law school.

In addition to 4-H, Brittney is also a member of Slidell FFA. Her favorite sport is basketball, and her church activities include cowboy camp, Fuge Camp, mission trips and working in concession stands with her youth group. They also have car washes to raise money.

“After law school, I plan on owning my own sheep farm and being a very successful person,” she said.

Brittney’s favorite color is green.

Clothing and Textiles 4-H Club


Jennifer Shaffer, 16, of Alvord is the daughter of Steven and Laura Shaffer. She represents the Clothing and Textiles Club of which she is vice president.

Jennifer also served as the club’s vice president in 2012-2013 and was the club’s reporter last year. She is also the Wise County Nutrition Quiz Bowl team captain.

In addition to the Clothing and Textiles Club, Jennifer is also active with the photography project group. In 2012, she won grand champion storyboard at the county level, and in 2013, she won grand champion black and white print. She has also won numerous first, second and third places with her photography at the Alvord Project Show.

Her favorite hobbies include dance hooping, pet training, computer programming, crocheting and playing numerous instruments, including the ukulele, piano, keyboard, recorder, guitar and violin.

Jennifer’s favorite subject is Spanish, and she said she’s “very interested in the structure of language and its evolution.”

She also enjoys drawing, writing, music, cake decorating, baking and typing.

Jennifer narrated her church’s Christmas play and volunteers at the Alvord Public Library. She competes on the Decatur High School computer science team, is a member of the DHS debate team, tennis team and the new disc golf team. She even helped design the disc golf team’s banner.

Jennifer knows how to juggle and is active in the Otaku Club at the Decatur Public Library.

She made her dress for the Queens Contest.

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Youth Fair Queens: 2015 Wise County FCCLA contestants



Skylar Anderson, 18, is the daughter of Reba Rivers. She is representing Boyd FCCLA and serves as president of her chapter.

Skylar is also active in FFA and National Honor Society. Her favorite subjects are history and geography, and her favorite sport is baseball.

Skylar’s hobbies include planning, drawing, spending time with her animals, going to the movies, reading, organizing, shooting and puzzles.

She’s also interested in art, agriculture, history, poetry and management.

Skylar has been named an All-Star actress and is on the A/B honor roll. Her favorite friend is Alexis Crane.

Skylar works at Pizza Place in Boyd and wants to be a nurse.

“After high school, I plan on attending North Central Texas College to pursue a pediatric nursing degree,” she said.

Paradise FCCLA


Shelby Boyers, 18, of Paradise is the daughter of Mike and Debbie Boyers. She represents Paradise FCCLA.

She has been an officer in her FCCLA chapter, as well as a Beta Club representative. Shelby enjoys traveling and making memories with her cheerleading squad.

In addition to cheering, she’s also interested in tumbling, and she may pursue a nursing career.

Her best friends are Marki, Matti and Kaylee.

“We’ve grown up together since our diaper days,” she said.



Whitney Stapleton, 16, of Chico is the daughter of Holly Stapleton. She represents Chico FCCLA.

Whitney has been president of her FCCLA chapter and has won numerous awards at the Wise County Youth Fair.

She enjoys reading and collecting snow globes, and her favorite subject is math. Whitney’s favorite sport is basketball. She is also in band.

Her favorite friend is Taylor Gardner, and she attends youth group activities at the Decatur Church of Christ. She’s also attended church camps.

Alvord FCCLA


Jacie Breanna Donald, 17, of Alvord is the daughter of Branda Bailey. She represents Alvord FCCLA and is currently serving as vice president.

Jacie enjoys spending time with her friends and family, especially her baby brother, Axton.

She’s the student council historian, and her favorite subject is science. Jacie plans to attend Weatherford College and pursue a nursing degree.

Her favorite friend is Amber Orr.

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Youth Fair Queens: 2015 Wise County FFA contestants

Bridgeport FFA


Remington Swensson, 17, of Paradise is the daughter of Dawn and Erik Swensson. She represents Bridgeport FFA and is the senior leader of the Bridgeport FFA floriculture team.

She has also served the chapter as FFA Greenhand officer and historian.

Remington was a member of the Bridgeport FFA district, area and state qualifying livestock judging teams in 2011. In 2012, she received the STAR Greenhand award and was an FFA state finalist in junior prepared public speaking. In 2014, she received her Texas FFA Lone Star Degree and was a finalist, placing third, at the FFA State Agri-Science Fair.

She placed third at the San Antonio Livestock Show Agri-Science Fair and is a Level 1 State of Texas certified florist after passing the required tests with knowledge gained through the FFA floriculture program.

Remington was the 2013-14 Floriculture Student of the Year.

She’s a member of 4-H and has won the Wise County Bronze and Silver Star awards, as well as many other honors from showing and competing in 4-H activities, including record books, public speaking, livestock judging, showing dogs and showing livestock.

Remington has been a member of the Mighty Maroon Marching Band since 2011 and was drum major in 2012, 2013 and 2014. She was also the band’s homecoming nominee. She qualified for state solo and ensemble with flute trio in 2012 and 2015. She also earned the highest ratings from all judges in 2012 and will compete at the UIL state solo and ensemble contest in May 2015.

Remington was recognized and honored as an Outstanding Leader 2014 at SASi Leadership Camp at the University of North Texas in Denton.

She’s been on the varsity golf team since 2012 and was an All-District player her first year. She was part of the district golf champion team in 2013 and 2014, and the team qualified for state in 2013, finishing in the top 10.

Remington is a member of National Honor Society Altoa Chapter, prom committee and P.A.L.S. (Peer Assisted Learning Strategies).

Remington has been chosen as Bridgeport High School Class of 2015 Outstanding Senior, and she’s been accepted to Texas Christian University.

She’s been on the A/B Honor Roll 2011 through 2014 and was named a Student of the Month 2011-2014. She made the all A honor roll the first semester of this school year.

Her favorite subjects are science and English, and she’s also interested in music, biology and chemistry.

Remington enjoys drawing, riding horses, reading books, traveling, showing cattle and dogs, making floral arrangements and spending time with family and friends.

She’s a member of the First United Methodist Church in Bridgeport and is a member of the youth group. She has played her flute and bass flute during special music and offertory music during services over the years and has participated in numerous church activities, including Bridgeport Gives Back in 2011, Acts of Random Kindness Day in 2012, the church’s community-wide Thanksgiving dinner 2009-2014 and helping in areas as needed by the Trustee Committee.

Paradise FFA


Shelby Bradshaw, 18, of Decatur is the daughter of Steve and Lisa Bradshaw and Jeff and Janice Clark. She represents Paradise FFA and is currently the chapter president, as well as the Area 5 District 1 FFA president.

She was Paradise FFA reporter her sophomore and junior years and is currently serving as the Beta Club representative and student council reporter. She’s also a member of the Paradise Buyers Association and Paradise Ag Supporters.

Her favorite subject is animal science, and her favorite sport is volleyball.

Shelby was named to the first team All-District volleyball, first team All-Wise County volleyball and academic All-State volleyball. She was also the 2012 STAR Greenhand for the Paradise FFA chapter and District 1. She has received her STAR Lone Star Farmer Degree, was the 2013 STAR Chapter Farmer and was part of a three-time state qualifying livestock judging team. Shelby has also been named Outstanding Senior Swine Feeder.

Her interests include showing market swine and playing sports.

Her favorite friend is her mom “because she has been there with me since the beginning and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t get rid of me.”

Shelby is also involved in the Decatur and Springtown Church of Christ youth groups. She volunteers at Gear Up, a free school supply event every summer, and she has participated in the “Awaken” youth trip. Shelby also helped teach Bible school for fifth and sixth graders.

Slidell FFA


Makayla Fitzgerald, 15, of Bridgeport is the daughter of Monty and Melissa Fitzgerald. She represents Slidell FFA and is currently serving as chapter president.

Makayla is also president of her class. She’s a cross country district champion and UIL prose regional qualifier, and she plays basketball.

Makayla is close to her basketball teammates, and her favorite subject is math.

She enjoys camping, fishing and sports, and she’s a member of the First Baptist Church in Decatur.

Makayla is also a member of 4-H.

Alvord FFA


Miracle Petree, 17, of Alvord is the daughter of Kim McDermott. She represents Alvord FFA and currently serves as adviser.

Miracle has also been the FFA sentinel. She’s also served as NTLBA youth secretary and president, OTLA secretary, TLBT treasurer and reporter, Spanish Club president and National Honor Society vice president. Miracle was a member of FCCLA last year.

Her hobbies include shopping, showing Longhorns, texting and hanging out with family.

Boyd FFA


Taylor Ragsdale, 16, of Decatur is the daughter of Tamara and Garry Ragsdale. She represents Boyd FFA and is currently chapter treasurer. She’s also the District 1 FFA president, as well as president of her class.

Taylor is a member of the National Honor Society and is a high school cheerleader. She’s been named UCA All- American cheerleader twice. She was also the STAR Greenhand and was part of the 2012 state qualifying Career Development Event in milk quality. She won the 2013 student award for English I and was the 2014 homecoming princess.

Taylor enjoys learning difficult tasks, working with kids, playing sports and trying new things. Her favorite sport is cheerleading, and her favorite subject is English.

Taylor works for University of Gymnastics coaching children from 18 months to 14 years old, and she is also part of the mentoring program at her school.

Chico FFA


Leslie Robbins, 17, of Chico is the daughter of Maria Hoket and Wes Robbins. She represents Chico FFA.

Leslie is the FFA committee chairman and is also a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, choir and student council. She also participates in the co-op or work program at her school. Her favorite subject is anatomy and physiology, and her interests include Emergency Medical Services, showing pigs, rodeo, cheerleading and tumbling.

Leslie’s favorite sport is basketball, and she also enjoys singing, playing guitar, mudding and riding her horse.

Leslie is on the A honor roll, and her favorite friend is Jacob Romines.

Decatur FFA


Shelby Drews, 18, of Decatur is the daughter of Tanya Drews. She is representing Decatur FFA.

Shelby is also a member of the National Honor Society, student council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

She enjoys basketball, showing, photography and video editing and Leadership and Career Development events.

She is a premier exhibitor in Decatur FFA and was basketball MVP for Wise County. She also made the academic All- District team.

Shelby was a lay witness for Christ nominee, and she enjoys hanging out with her family and friends. She’s part of the Crossroads youth group and helps with childcare on Sunday mornings.

Shelby’s favorite subject is history, but she’s also interested in basketball, photography and showing her lambs and pigs.

“The definition of my favorite friend is someone that knows me inside out and would do anything for me,” she said. “They help me through hard times and laugh about the good times.”

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Youth Fair parade revived for 2015 event

The 63rd Annual Wise County Youth Fair will be kicked off with a parade Saturday, Feb. 28.

It will be the first Youth Fair parade in several decades, and organizers hope it will raise awareness of the event and encourage families to visit the show March 2-7 at the Wise County Fairgrounds.

Past Parade

PAST PARADE – Alvord 4-H Club’s entry wishing America a “happy birthday” won Best Float in the 1976 Youth Fair parade. This photo was originally published in a Youth Fair catalog. Submitted photo

Youth Fair board member James Hubbard, who came up with the idea, said everyone in the community is invited to participate. Businesses, fire departments, non-profit organizations, school groups, churches and of course, 4-H clubs, FFA chapters and FCCLA groups.

Lineup starts at 9 a.m. on Business 81/287 at Sandford Oil in Decatur. The parade starts at 10 a.m., and it will travel west on Walnut Street, south on Lane Street and east on Main Street to return to the start.

Hubbard said participants in the Heart of a Champion Show will be the grand marshals, and the Youth Fair queen nominees will ride in a horse-drawn wagon.

Awards will be given, and winners will be recognized just before the start of the auction Saturday at the fairgrounds.

To participate in the parade, call Hubbard at 940-389-5735 or fill out an application on wcyouthfair.org.

See the Feb. 25 All Around Wise for a Youth Fair Preview section. It will include the fair schedule, a story highlighting changes to this year’s event and profiles of all the queens contestants.

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Heart of a Champion: Wise County Youth Fair adds special show

Heart of a Champion: Wise County Youth Fair adds special show

A new event has been added to the lineup at the Wise County Youth Fair this year.

A special event will be held Friday, March 6, to share the show ring experience with special needs children and adults.

From the Diamond to the Show Ring

FROM THE DIAMOND TO THE SHOW RING – The folks with Wise County Special Needs Baseball are working with 4-H and FFA representatives to plan a livestock show for special needs children and adults at this year’s Wise County Youth Fair. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Dubbed Heart of a Champion, the livestock show was the result of a brainstorming session between sisters – Shelby Bradshaw, Lyndi Luttrull and Lauryn Luttrull.

“We were on vacation on the way to Tampa, Fla.,” said Lauryn, “and we were talking about what we wanted to do in the future, our goals. Then we saw a special needs family … we talked in the past about doing something like this, so Mom made a Facebook post, and it kind of took off from there.

“We made a committee, and it blossomed like a flower.”

Shelby said last year they saw students with special needs showing at the San Antonio Livestock Show, but they were at a disadvantage because they couldn’t handle the animals alone.

“They have to have someone else with them, so we thought it would be cool to do something so they could have their own show,” she said.

The committee has been working closely with the families involved in Wise County Special Needs Baseball and anticipates reaching many people through that organization.

Although 4-H and FFA are open only to youth, the special needs baseball group encouraged the committee to open the show to all ages, just like its program.

On the day of the show, volunteers will arrive at 4 p.m. for training. Participants (youth and adult) will arrive at 4:30 and will be matched with two volunteers and their animal, either a pig, lamb, goat, rabbit or dog.

Lyndi said the participant will have time to get to know the animal and do things like brush it and prepare it for the show ring.

The participants will go into the show ring with their helpers, and the emcee, NBC news anchor Deborah Ferguson, will interact with the participants and facilitate activity in the ring.

Lyndi said as participants exit the ring, they will each receive a rosette and will have their photo taken in front of the Youth Fair backdrop. Photos will be printed on site and given to the participants as a keepsake.

After the show, a hot dog and hamburger supper will be served in the Women’s Building.

Most of the expenses associated with the show have already been covered, but volunteers are still needed. The girls said anyone can help, and it’s not necessary to have an animal project or even be in 4-H or FFA to lend a hand.

The sisters made presentations to the Decatur Lions Club and Decatur Womens’ Club looking for help.

“Even if they don’t want to be hands-on,” Lyndi said, “just sitting in the stands and clapping is more than enough.”

The girls have no idea what to expect, but Lyndi said she hopes to see some smiling faces.

“I hope they feel included in something, and they get to have experiences in something that they might not have otherwise had the opportunity to,” she said.

Shelby added that she wants the participants to have fun and relish the opportunity to connect with an animal.

The girls hope the event becomes an annual tradition and is possibly eventually tied to the sale.

“The flower has blossomed, and now we have to, like a dandelion, let the seeds spread,” Lauryn said.

The deadline for participants to register is Monday, Feb. 2. Volunteers must sign up by Monday, Feb. 23. To sign up, call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at 940-627-3341 or email wise-tx@tamu.edu.

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August rodeo will benefit Youth Fair

Planning is underway for a new rodeo event in Wise County.

The Chisholm Trail Days Rodeo is excited to bring a UPRA rodeo the the Wise County Fairgrounds Aug. 22 and 23, produced by the Flying C Rodeo Co. Owned by Will, Karen, Todd and Casey Cook, the Flying C is a family-owned rodeo company based out of Madill, Okla.

The Chisholm Trail Days Rodeo is a new event, however the goal is to provide a truly authentic rodeo experience for the contestants, spouses, family members, friends and spectators.

All money raised over and above expenses will benefit the 2015 Wise County Youth Rodeo and Wise County Youth Fair.

For information and sponsorship opportunity, call Zane Lasater at 940-255-9375.

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Youth Fair 2014

Youth Rodeo

YOUTH RODEO – Cameron Tucker grimaces as he attempts to wrestle a steer at the Wise County Youth Fair Rodeo Friday night. The rodeo was held at the end of the fair, which ran March 1-8. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Arena Action

ARENA ACTION – Jordan Lee of Fort Worth holds on for a wild ride in the bareback contest Friday night at the Wise County Youth Fair Rodeo. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Out of the Gate

OUT OF THE GATE – Ryder Taylor of Alvord continues to hang on even after his sheep sits down in the arena Friday night. Taylor hoped to win the mutton bustin’ title at the Wise County Youth Fair Rodeo. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Bucking Bronc

BUCKING BRONC – Jacob Smith of Paradse manages to stay atop a bucking horse as it jumps across the arena Friday night. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Picture of Perseverance

PICTURE OF PERSEVERANCE – Chase Sinks of Rockwall attempts to throw down a calf after roping it Friday during the Youth Fair Rodeo. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Saturday sale tops $229,000

The 2014 Wise County Youth Fair ended with a sale Saturday that saw 129 projects bring $229,600 to their young exhibitors.

The grand champion steer, shown by Haley Rector with Paradise FFA, brought $11,000. It was purchased by the Champions and Blue Ribbon Club.

Grand Champion Steer

GRAND CHAMPION STEER – Haley Rector with Paradise FFA walks the grand champion steer through the arena Saturday at the Youth Fair Sale. It was purchased by the Champions and Blue Ribbon Club for $11,000. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The organization spent $59,750 to purchase Youth Fair show champions and distributed another $42,800 to seven buyers’ associations to help with project purchases.

Reserve Champion Steer

RESERVE CHAMPION STEER – Seth Byers with Decatur 4-H enters the arena Saturday to sell the reserve champion steer at the Youth Fair Sale. He received $6,500. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The grand champion market hog, shown by Carson Read with Decatur 4-H, and the grand champion market lamb, shown by Rebecca Lambert of Paradise Jr. FFA, both brought $5,500. Miranda Dickens with Bridgeport FFA received $5,000 for the grand champion market wether, and Seth Hakanson with Decatur Jr. FFA sold his grand champion rabbit meat pen for $1,250.

Champion Market Lamb

CHAMPION MARKET LAMB – Rebecca Lambert with Paradise Jr. FFA brings the grand champion market lamb into the Wise County Fairgrounds arena Saturday. The animal sold for $5,500 to the Champions and Blue Ribbon Club. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The grand champion broilers, shown by Cale Laaser with Decatur 4-H, did not sell because Laaser chose to sell his market hog instead. Exhibitors are allowed to have only one item in the sale and must choose which project to sell if more than one makes the cut.

The grand champion agricultural mechanics project exhibited by Daniel McCurdy of Wise County 4-H sold for $2,500. Parker Griffeth with Decatur FFA sold the grand champion horticulture project for $750.

Grand champion baked goods each sold for $750. The winning exhibitors included Brittany Pritchard with Paradise FCCLA, FCCLA all-level grand champion; Savannah Richardson with Boyd 4-H, grand champion 4-H food ages 14 and over; Brianna Pewitt with Alvord 4-H, grand champion 4-H food ages 11, 12 and 13; and Madelyn Causey with Alvord 4-H, grand champion 4-H food ages 9 and 10.

Decatur exhibitors had the most items in the sale with 36, closely followed by Paradise at 33. Bridgeport exhibitors had 16 of the prize-winning projects, and Boyd and Chico had 13 each. Alvord exhibitors had 12 projects in the sale, and Slidell had three. Exhibitors showing under Wise County 4-H had three projects that sold Saturday.

A complete list of items in the Youth Fair Sale, as well as other results from the fair and rodeo, will be published in a special section of the Messenger next Wednesday, March 19.

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Scholarships honoring Young presented Saturday

Three scholarships honoring the late Roy Young were presented to exhibitors at the Wise County Youth Fair Sale of Champions Saturday.

Young was among the founders of the Youth Fair Champions and Blue Ribbon Club, and served as president of the group for more than five years. Since its inception, the club has awarded more than $1 million to Youth Fair champions and Buyers Clubs.

Scholarship Winner

SCHOLARSHIP WINNER – Ashley Pearson with Paradise FFA was presented a $2,500 scholarship in honor of Roy Young by the Youth Fair Champions and Blue Ribbon Club. Pictured are (from left) Brennan Williams with the Champions Club, Pearson, Young’s sisters Debra Walker and Linda Young, Walker’s granddaughter Bailey Boaz and Asa W. Johnson Jr., Champions Club president. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Two $2,000 scholarships were given by Young’s sisters, Debra Walker and Linda Young, along with Andrew Rottner of Wise County Challenger Charities, sponsors of the annual Professional Bull Riding event at the fairgronds.

Those scholarships were awarded to Clayton McGar of Decatur FFA and China Brattis of Chico FFA.

A $2,500 scholarship, sponsored by the Champions and Blue Ribbon Club was presented to Ashley Pearson of Paradise FFA. The scholarships were presented by Asa W. Johnson Jr., president of the Champions Club.

Financial Awards

FINANCIAL AWARDS – China Brattis with Chico FFA (second from left) and Clayton McGar with Decatur FFA (second from right) received $2,000 scholarships Saturday in honor of Roy Young. They were presented by (from left) Young’s sister, Debra Walker and her granddaughter, Bailey Boaz, sister Linda Young and Andrew Rottner of Wise County Challenger Charities. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Wise County Youth Fair

Granbd Champion

GRAND CHAMPION – Haley Rector with Paradise FFA won grand champion steer Friday at the Wise County Youth Fair. The European cross will be sold today at the auction. A complete list of show results will be published in a special section March 19. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Afternoon Nap

AFTERNOON NAP – Makaya Wakefield of Paradise sits in the pen Thursday with her show pig, Wilbur. While the duo was waiting for their turn in the arena, Wilbur napped to ease any pre-show jitters. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Visiting the Fair

VISITING THE FAIR – Whitney Lamance of Boyd and her daughter, Harper, take a closer look at a lamb at the Wise County Youth Fair this week. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

No Horsing Around

NO HORSING AROUND – Carsyn Bailey (left) and Tanner Baker, both of Decatur, take off in the cattle penning competition Tuesday at NRS Arena. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Family Project

FAMILY PROJECT – Sydnee Mowery, 9, of Alvord shows off her ribbon and prize-winning goat with her mom, Buffy. Mowery showed Tuesday morning. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Constant Care

CONSTANT CARE – An exhibitor waters her heifers Thursday at the Wise County Youth Fair. The beef cattle show was Friday, concluding the 2014 Wise County Youth Fair. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Youth Fair workout

Youth Fair workout

Despite living much of their lives inside barns and pens, the animals bound for the Wise County Youth Fair undergo a more rigorous exercise regimen than most people.

“Sometimes they look really tired after the treadmill,” said Shelby Drews.

The 17-year-old junior at Decatur High School has been taking care of a small flock of sheep she’ll be showing at next week’s Youth Fair. As the treadmill spins, one of Drews’ sheep marches along, picking up the pace as she slowly increases the speed of the machine.

High on the Hog

HIGH ON THE HOG – Parker Griffeth and Caylla Cotten stroll behind a pig at the Decatur High School ag barn Friday. The hog will be one of many animals shown at the Wise County Youth Fair next week. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I’ll put them on the walker for about 20 minutes,” she said. “Then they’ll run on the treadmill for about five minutes. And sometimes I’ll let them run up the hill.”

Before the animals ever make their way into the dusty show arenas from Decatur to Houston, their caretakers have spent months getting their beasts into shape.

Caylla Cotten and Katarina Scoma, a senior and freshman, respectively, at Decatur High School work daily to get their hogs the best physique possible.

“You have to walk them every day,” Scoma said as she softly swished a whip against Babe’s side, leading him around a little arena in the ag barn.

Scoma lives in a subdivision that doesn’t allow swine. But thanks to the high school ag barn, she and many other students still have a chance to raise these animals.

“I love animals,” she said. “And I thought this would be a great experience and helps teach responsibility.”

The diet is just as crucial as the exercise.

“The front legs on Babe are a little small so I have to give him the correct food for muscle growth,” Scoma said. “Feeding them correctly is a real art.”

“You want a nice line down the middle of their back,” Cotten said. “The judges will be looking at the ham in the back and strong legs in the front. You don’t want them to have a low gut.”

This will be Cotten’s second year showing pigs at the Youth Fair. She admits after spending so much time raising these animals it makes her sad when they finally go to market.

“I remember watching him walking up the ramp and into the back of the truck,” Cotten recalled from last year. “I cried for three hours.”

“I’m probably going to cry, too,” Scoma said. “I probably shouldn’t have named him.”

When she approached the pen Friday morning, the 215-pound hog stuck out his tongue, and then showed off a bottom row of teeth.

“I think my mom might cry more than I do when he finally goes to market,” Scoma said.

Even though these projects are kept at the school, preparing for Youth Fair is oftentimes a family affair.

“My family comes up here, and we spend a lot of time together taking care of them,” Drews said.

Animals aren’t the only show in town. Decatur ag teacher Joey Brooke has been working with some students for almost a year rebuilding a 1955 John Deere 40 tractor. Juniors Scott Gogniat, Jake Cobb and Cody Reed have invested more than 600 man hours de-constructing, refurbishing and rebuilding the antique tractor. They started working on it last May.

“We cranked it up for the first time yesterday,” Reed said. “It was a good feeling.”

Now, after months of early mornings and late nights, students hope their efforts and exercises are enough to win at the Wise County Youth Fair next week.


Bring out the hats and coveralls. Old Man Winter will again sweep across Wise County just in time for the 2014 Youth Fair.

A cold front is expected to blow through Sunday afternoon dropping temperatures into the 30s and bringing with it light freezing rain and drizzle.

Exhibitors will wake up to temperatures in the 20s Monday morning, and the high isn’t expected to get out of the 30s.

Evan Culpepper, Youth Fair board president, said he’s hoping the roads don’t get icy.

“We can’t move a show to a different time because we don’t have that much flexibility,” he said. “The shows will be at the times they are posted unless the judge can’t show up.”

He said no shows would be canceled, but they might delay the start of some if roads are deemed treacherous.

It could be an issue for the broiler and horse shows, both of which start early Monday morning. Twenty-degree temperatures are also expected Tuesday morning, but there’s no precipitation in the forecast. “I’ve just been telling everyone to bundle up!” Culpepper said.

The Youth Fair kicks off Saturday night with the Queen Contest starting at 7 p.m. at the Women’s Building on the Wise County Fairgrounds. Livestock shows start Monday and continue throughout the week. Youth will also be participating in food competitions, arts and crafts, clothing, photography and ag mechanics contests.

A complete schedule ran in this week’s All Around Wise. It can also be found online at www.wcyouthfair.org. Watch Update next week for a daily list of events.

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2014 Youth Fair queen contestants


Caitlin Pruett

Caitlin Pruett, 17, of Slidell is the daughter of Steve and Cindy Pruett. She represents Slidell/Greenwood 4-H.

She is the District 3 4-H Council public relations chairman and County 4-H Council parliamentarian. She also served as County 4-H Council president and the Slidell/Greenwood 4-H Club president in 2012-2013.

Caitlin’s 4-H honors include second place in state record book, third place educational presentation at 4-H State Roundup and third place state food challenge team in 2013. In 2012, she was a Gold Star winner and won third place state food challenge team.

Her hobbies include watching movies, hanging out with friends and playing basketball. Her basketball honors include being named to the 2012-2013 TABC All-Region basketball team, second team All District and second team All Wise County. She was also the 2011-2012 District Newcomer of the Year.

Caitlin has also earned awards in track, including third place in the 800 meter run at regionals and a 4×4 relay regional qualifier in 2013 and an 800 meter run regional qualifier in 2012. She has also earned honors in other areas such as being named to the 2013 Region All-Star Cast and regional qualifier in One-Act Play, a state qualifier in literary criticism in 2012 and a regional qualifier in number sense in 2012 and 2013.

Her interests include playing basketball, which she describes as her passion, and she also enjoys running track, competing in UIL, One-Act Play, and other extracurricular activities. Her favorite subject is math.

In addition to 4-H, Caitlin is also a member of the Beta Club, student council and FCCLA. Her church activities include the Impact leadership team, Impact Praise Band, children’s church teacher and vacation Bible school teacher.

Her favorite friend is Marisol Millan.


Danae Brooke Meadows

Danae Brooke Meadows, 12, of Paradise is the daughter of Todd and Robin Meadows. She represents Paradise 4-H.

Danae has served as historian, treasurer and secretary of her 4-H club over the past three years. She won top junior goat feeder in her FFA chapter and has placed first and made the sale at the Wise County Youth Fair with her goats and pigs.

Other honors include placing first in the sixth grade talent show and being an all “A” student.

Danae is a member of the Texas Junior Livestock Association and the Paradise Jr. FFA. She is actively involved in activities at Cottondale Church of Christ where she helps with her Sunday school class.

Her hobbies include dancing, singing, art and hanging out with friends. She is also involved in basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, cheer, showing and judging livestock and UIL poetry reading. Her favorite sports are volleyball, basketball and cheer, and her favorite subjects are ELA and math.

Danae said she felt community service was very important. She helps with the Salvation Army bell-ringing at Christmas and participates in Shoebox Christmas. She has also collected books and games for children’s hospitals.


Amber Orr

Amber Orr, 17, of Alvord is the daughter of Melanie and Brian Orr. She represents Alvord 4-H.

She has served as Alvord 4-H vice president and FCCLA historian. Orr has also been a member of FFA and student council.

Her favorite hobbies include showing and spending time at the barn working with her heifer. She also enjoys photography and hanging out with friends.

Orr’s favorite sport is softball, while her favorite subject is math.

She has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average throughout high school, and she is a mentor for Alvord Elementary School.

Orr is a member of First Baptist Church of Alvord, where she is involved in the VBS worship team and FASM Youth Group and Core Crew.


Emily Egle

Emily Egle, 14, of Decatur is the daughter of Roger and Rene’ Egle. She is representing Chico 4-H.

Emily has held the offices of reporter and treasurer for Chico 4-H.

In addition to 4-H, Emily is also a member of TNT Volleyball and PCA Cheer Academy.

She lists her favorite hobbies as reading, exercising and cooking, and her interests include volleyball, cheerleading and showing goats. Emily also participates in monthly community service projects throughout Wise County.

Among the honors she has received are membership in the National Junior Honor Society, making the “A” honor roll and receiving awards in her favorite subjects – math and science.

Emily has been a member of the cheer squad for three years and the volleyball team for four years.

Her favorite friend is Nana.


Fallon Alexis Sachse

Fallon Alexis Sachse, 14, of Decatur is the daughter of Steve and Laurie Washburn. She represents Decatur 4-H.

She serves as the second vice president of her club, is a council delegate for the 4-H Clothing and Textiles Club and secretary for the County Council. She also serves on the Wise County 4-H FCS Taskforce and helps plan county-wide FCS activities.

Fallon participates in a number of 4-H projects including food challenge, food show, consumer decision making, photography, fashion show, fashion storyboards, educational presentations and numerous community service projects.

Fashion, she says, is her passion, and she admits to having a “sixth sense” for spotting the latest fashion trends before they happen. She enjoys innovation, originality, problem-solving and working with others who have the same passion.

Her favorite hobbies include designing, sewing, making jewelry and shopping.

Fallon is a member of the First Baptist Church in Decatur.


Angelina Newbold

Angelina Newbold, 10, of Alvord is the daughter of Wes and Nancy Newbold. She represents Bridgeport 4-H.

Angelina is treasurer for the Bridgeport 4-H Club. She is the recreation officer for 4-H Clothing and Textiles projects, and she also participates in photography and horse projects. She said she has enjoyed the various community service projects and the responsibility of holding offices in the Bridgeport 4-H Club.

She won grand champion in the junior construction casual division and first place in miscellaneous personal accessories at the 2013 Wise County Youth Fair. At the Wise County 4-H Fashion Show, she won first place in the junior modeling award. She also won county and district cotton awards. Angelina won first place with her 4-H record book at county and second place at district.

Her hobbies include horseback riding (both English and western), swimming and making jewelry. She enjoys reading and playing the guitar and piano and singing with her twin sister. The sisters won first place in a music/talent competition.

She has been active in her church her entire life and continues to be involved in choir and other church performances, feeding the homeless and participating in Operation Christmas Child. She especially enjoys opportunities to live out her faith by helping younger children.

Angelina’s favorite sport is soccer, and she has enjoyed playing with both the Decatur and North Fort Worth Alliance soccer associations. Her favorite subjects are math, logic and spelling.

She lists her favorite friends as her sister, Brianna McKeever, Lisa and Julie Morgan and Morgan, Jerod and Joshua Flynt.


Saffron Sunshine Smith

Saffron Sunshine Smith, 19, of Boyd is the daughter of Courtland and Scarlet Sears. She represents Boyd 4-H, which she has served as rec leader, reporter, treasurer and County Council delegate.

She was greenhand sentinel, chapter historian, chapter reporter and acting treasurer for Boyd FFA, and served as chaplain for FFA District 3. This past year, Saffron attended the National FFA Convention.

She was float coordinator and County Council delegate for the Wise County Horse Club.

Saffron is also a member of the student council and FFA nursery landscape judging team, which has made it to the state competition every year she’s been a member.

She’s on the “A/B” honor roll and has been named to the All-District academic team and honorable mention for varsity volleyball. She has won the FFA Herdsmanship award, the FFA’s Lone Star degree and grand and reserve champion with show cattle and crafts. Her school activities include track, volleyball, basketball and serving as varsity mascot her junior year.

Saffron’s hobbies include showing heifers, riding horses, crafts, scrapbooking and playing sports. Her interests include showing horses, cows and colored angora goats; spending time with friends; working on her truck (a 1970 Ford F-100) and traveling. During her high school career, she has been active in showing her Beefmasters.

She plans to attend the University of Hawaii’s Hilo campus to pursue a degree in environmental studies with a minor in agriculture and a certification in forestry management.

Saffron works for a local petting zoo and runs her own pet-sitting business. She enjoys teaching others about animals. She also keeps busy working on her family’s ranch.

She lists her favorite sport as volleyball, and her favorite subject is English.

Saffron is a member of the Rock Island Family Church.


Payton Tucker

Payton Tucker, the 18-year-old daughter of Damon and Sharron Tucker, represents the Bridgeport FFA.

Payton, who was chosen Miss BHS, is a class representative and has been a top-five finalist in the homecoming court for four years.

She was second team All-District in volleyball and was the top defensive player on both the freshman and JV volleyball teams. She has also been a state qualifier in youth fair photography for two years.

Payton lists volleyball as her favorite sport and photography and visiting aquariums as her interests. Leah and Taylor are her favorite friends.

She likes listening to music, hanging out with her friends and shopping.


Lauren Hart

Lauren Hart, 17, of Bridgeport, the daughter of Pete and Tobie Hart, represents Alvord FCCLA.

Lauren is student council treasurer at Alvord High School, and is involved in FCA, basketball, track, cheer and cross country – in addition to FCCLA.

She was on the all-academic basketball team the last three years. She went to state in cross country and regionals in basketball and track. She received second team All-District her freshman year in basketball and also received first team All-District her sophomore and junior years. She was also nominated homecoming queen.

Lauren’s hobbies include playing her favorite sport – basketball – as well as going to the lake with friends and spending time with her family.

Her favorite subject is English, and her favorite friend is her sister, Audra.

She is also an active member of Victory Family Church.


Bailey Sides

Bailey Sides, 18, of Runaway Bay is the daughter Leigh Ann and Michael Sides. She is representing Paradise FFA.

She currently serves as the FFA vice president and held the treasurer and historian positions her junior and sophomore years. She has also been a Beta Club member and cheerleader for three years. Bailey was junior class secretary and was class treasurer her sophomore and freshman years.

Her interests include agriculture, education and mission work. She lists Billie Rae Ward and Cody Carmichael as her favorite friends, English as her favorite subject and volleyball and baseball as her favorite sports.

During her high school career, she has garnered several honors including: Area Senior Skill Team for three years, Area Junior Skills Team for one year, Area Nursery Landscape Team for one year. Bailey was an Academic All-District athlete for three years and ran on the varsity cross country team all four years, earning MVP and team captain three years. She’s been a member of third-place and fifth-place teams at state, as well as district and regional champions.

She was also on the varsity volleyball team for three years, earning first team All-District two years and first team All Wise County two years.

Bailey has been a varsity cheerleading All-American two years and was Newcomer of the Year in tennis. She’s played varsity tennis and been the varsity track MVP qualifying for regionals three years.

She has also made the sale with barrows at San Antonio, Houston and county shows.

Her church activities include participating with the First Baptist Church Paradise Youth Group, Club 22:6, extended service nursery volunteer and missions to the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.

She also serves her community by helping with the mini-cheerleading camp, FFA canned food drives, volunteering at Beautiful Feet Homeless Shelter, being a concession stand volunteer, a vacation Bible school teacher, babysitting through Beat Club, participating in Sarah’s Cure Triathalon, making shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, and participating in Relay For Life.

She plans to attend Texas Tech University in the fall to pursue an English degree. She hopes to specialize in elementary education. She also hopes to one day meet a good Christian man to marry and raise a family with.


Macie Moss

Seventeen-year-old Macie Moss, the daughter of Craig and Leanna Moss, is representing the Chico FFA.

Macie, who is president of the Chico FFA Chapter, also serves as District 1 FFA historian and is president of the Chico High School class of 2015.

She had the champion American heifer in the Chico Buckle Show in 2013 and was on the champion Fort Worth Herdsmanship team. She is the reigning Chico FFA Sweetheart.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, the 2014 prom committee and the Chico FFA beef heifer show team.

Macie’s interests are public speaking and beef cattle. She plans to attend Tarleton State University and earn a degree in ag communications.

She lists her favorite hobbies as baking, showing Beefmaster cattle and shopping at thrift stores. Her favorite friends are her mom and her dog, Rudy. Cheerleading and football are her favorite sports, and English is her favorite subject.

She’s a member of the Cundiff Baptist Church.


DeeDra Phipps

Eighteen-year-old DeeDra Phipps of Boyd, the daughter of Dee Phipps, represents Boyd FCCLA.

Her hobbies include tennis, work and spending time with friends and her family. Her best friend is her twin sister, Destini Phipps.

Phipps’ favorite sport is cheerleading, and her favorite subject is cheer class.

She was homecoming princess her sophomore year.


McKenna Robertson

McKenna Robertson, 18, of Paradise is the daughter of Angela Hensley. She represents Paradise FCCLA.

McKenna enjoys camping, hanging out with friends and family and going to concerts.

Her interests include photography and traveling. Her favorite school subject is government, and her favorite sport is volleyball.


Kelcei Ferguson

Kelcei Ferguson, 19, of Boyd is the daughter of Clint and Brandi Ferguson. She is representing Boyd FFA.

Kelcei is a member of the National Honor Society and was named to the 2013-2014 volleyball academic All-State team by the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Volleyball is her favorite sport.

Her favorite hobbies include hunting, bow fishing, camping, snow skiing, volleyball, softball, spending time with friends and family, being on the water, riding horses and showing goats. Her interests include taking care of animals and taking care of family.

Kelcei’s favorite subject is anatomy.


Hope Webb

Hope Webb, 16, of Chico is the daughter of Marcia Webb. She represents Chico FCCLA.

She is a member of the student council, FCA president and a cheerleader.

Hope’s favorite hobbies include volleyball, basketball and cheering.

She is an A/B honor roll student, and her favorite subject is algebra.

Her favorite friend is Brianna Martin.

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Wise County Sheriff’s Posse bows out of Youth Fair rodeo

The Wise County Sheriff’s Posse has announced it will not put on the Youth Fair rodeo this year.

Nevertheless, the show will go on.

Zane Lasater of Decatur has agreed to stage the event, which is scheduled for March 7-8.

The former Posse member said he’s stepped in to “keep the youth involved with rodeo.” He plans to give any proceeds from the event to the Youth Fair Committee.

“It’s for the youth and that’s where I want to keep it,” he said. “I’m not doing it for my benefit or anybody else’s.”

Posse President Russell Stephens said his group can’t afford to put on the event.

“We can’t afford to put on the Youth Fair rodeo since our revenue has been shut off,” he said. “It’s about an $8,000 expense that we can’t afford. We have no revenue whatsoever.”

The Posse, which previously had a long-term lease with the county for the fairgrounds, made money by renting the facility to other organizations. But the county did not renew the Posse’s lease last year and took possession of the grounds.

Youth Fair board president Evan Culpepper said he was notified Monday that the Posse would not put on the rodeo. With just five weeks until the event, it didn’t leave much time for another party to put anything together.

“I had talked to Zane a while back,” said Culpepper, “and when I found out yesterday, I contacted him again. He called me (Tuesday morning) and said he’d made arrangements, he’d do it. At least we have a rodeo going on.”

Time is short, but Lasater is trying to nail down the event list, and he’s hoping to find sponsors.

“It’ll be a lot of work to get it done,” he said, “but we’ll get there.”

To sponsor the rodeo or volunteer during the event, call Lasater at 940-210-0050 or Frieda Haley at 940-627-6158.

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Disappearing dairies: Changing landscape has led to decrease in dairy entries at Youth Fair

FAMILY TRADITION - Four generations of the Cox family share the sunlight with award-winning heifer "Cathy" at the family farm near Paradise. They are (from left) son Jerry, father Carl, grandson Chad, great-grandson Alan, 1, and grandson Cyle Cox. Messenger photo by Dave Rogers

A window into Wise County’s agricultural history is closing.

When the 2012 Wise County Youth Fair begins its week-long run Monday, it will have a schedule that’s missing something.

The Dairy Heifer Sale has been eliminated. And you’d better not be late if you want to see some dairy cow judging. (The Dairy Cattle Show is at 6 p.m. Tuesday.)

“We still have the Dairy Show for premiums and prizes,” said Jerry Cox, dairy cattle superintendent for the youth fair. “But this might be the last year for it.

“Last year we had only two people with entries, and we had two awards to give away. There was not much competition.”

Dairying, once a staple of Wise County life, is a virtually dead industry in these parts nowadays. Only a handful of folks still sell milk.

“In 1951, there were 305 dairies in Wise County, just about one on every farm,” recalls Carl Cox, Jerry’s dad, who opened his dairy near Paradise on 185 acres he bought in 1952.

“At one time, Wise County was flip-flopping with Hopkins County (county seat Sulphur Springs) for No. 1 in the state for the number of dairies,” Jerry Cox said.

According to the Texas State Historical Society, as recently as the 1980s Wise, Hopkins and Erath County (county seat Stephenville) accounted for about 30 percent of the state’s dairy product.

The 60th edition of the Youth Fair will feature 2,500 entries. Fewer than 1 percent of those will be dairy cattle.

A year ago, cows owned by Katrina Watson and Cyle Cox won 20 of 21 ribbons awarded at the Dairy Show. Watson, whose family still runs one of Wise County’s working dairies, won the $5,000 prize for Grand Champion Dairy Heifer. Cyle, youngest son of Jerry, had the Reserve Grand Champion.

A sophomore at Paradise High School, Cyle has been competing at the Youth Fair since joining 4-H in the third grade as did his older brothers Chad and Clint before him.

Jerry, dairy superintendent for 17 years and a former Youth Fair competitor himself, recalls, “We used to have 70 or 80 animals in the barn for a Dairy Show and a sale for the dairy animals only.”

Cyle said he’s never competed against more than 10 people at the Wise County Youth Fair.

The numbers were much greater earlier this school year when he showed dairy cows at Waco’s Heart of Texas show in October, the Fort Worth Livestock show in January and the San Antonio Livestock show in February.

His 3-year-old “Cathy” won Grand Champion Open Show in Fort Worth and again at San Antonio. He also won second-in-class awards at both events with a 14- to 18-month heifer, “Natasha,” and won a pair of seconds in Waco.

While the prize money at Fort Worth was $500 for first, he received “a sizable scholarship, payable to the university of his choice,” for winning the San Antonio show, his dad said.

Fort Worth reserves its scholarships for high school seniors, and Cyle plans to be competing for one there in the winter of 2014. If this is, in fact, the final year for a Dairy Cattle Show at the Wise County Youth Fair, Cyle Cox will stay busy preparing and showing his heifers at out-of-town shows.

Some say the decline of the dairies here was brought about by onerous government regulation. Others say incentives paid by Panhandle concerns caused the shift of operations up there. All admit that dairying, a seven-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year business that required working from long before sunup until well after sundown, isn’t that attractive in the 21st century.

“You just wore out after awhile,” said Linda Downe, whose family dairy was perhaps the county’s largest when it shut down.

Jerry left his job as dean of men at Tarleton State University in Stephenville to return home and work the family dairy farm with his parents.

His eldest son, Chad, was studying to be an ag teacher at Tarleton, “but my plan was to come home and milk cows,” he said. “Two months after I left home for college, the dairy got sold.”

That would be in 1995 when Carl said he sold his 120 milking cows to a man from Stephenville.

“The price of milk was low, and the price of feed was high,” Carl said. “I told Jerry if we’re going to stay in this business, we’re going to have to subsidize this business. We couldn’t afford to do that.”

Jerry now runs beef cattle on the family farm and keeps a small group of dairy cows “as a hobby.”

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