There were wall-to-wall people and animals Thursday as the first day of the 64th annual Junior Livestock Show and Sale officially commenced.
Natalie Goodwin, 11, of Wells, was certainly ready with three young California rabbits she had bred for the meat pen.
Natalie, who has been showing rabbits about four years, is hoping she can negotiate with whomever purchases her bunnies so she can breed them, rather than have them eaten.
“We have a bunny at home named 'Special Fred' – like the song,” she said. “He is special. He looks like Groucho Marx with really thick eyebrows.”
The Junior Livestock Show, held at the Cherokee County Stock Show & Exposition Center on West Loop 456, covers a range of competitions for Future Farmers of America clubs from Alto, Wells, Bullard, Jacksonville, Rusk, New Summerfield and Troup as well as the Classic, Cloverleaf, Footbridge, Hearts in Bloom, Lookout and Wells 4-H groups.
Contests are being held for poultry, rabbits, dairy and beef cattle, swine, goats and horses. There also are plant projects judging, for instance, tomato plants to exotic flowers and potted plants. Additionally, there are metal and wood shop contests – all hand-prepared by Cherokee County youth.
Speaking of bunnies, Emily Monday, 5, was quick to show her girl bunny “Hippity Hop.” The Wells kindergartner is in her first year of raising animals, said her mother, Alicia.
Really young children get to show but not sell their animals.
Rusk High School sophomore Brittany Kellis, 16, was busy washing Roy, her 262-pound Barrow pig she will be showing in the meat category.
Brittany has being doing this for five years, but all of her earlier Barrows were females. Roy is different.
“He's my favorite pig,” she said with a smile as she continued to wash Roy.
There also were numerous chickens and goats on display.
In the plant area, Annie Cox, 11, of Alto, was hard at work trimming the fern she was submitting for competition. It was her first time competing in this category.
“I got my fern from my Nana,” Annie said. “She has a lot of plants with her around Tyler.”
Around 1 p.m. Thursday the poultry show started – as announced over the insanely loud show intercom.
Hundreds of kids and parents flocked to the arena area for the competition.
Those who grew hungry at the free event got to enjoy the delicacies of the concession stand, which was manned by employees and families connected to the Chero-kee County Extension Office.
Cashier Conner Coughlin, a 13-year-old Jacksonville Middle School eighth-grader, practiced his “not-annoying-at-all” British accent as he sold and dispensed delicious nachos, sodas, fries, chili, and barbecue sandwiches.
“It's kind of like, I'm handling the money and taking orders,” Conner said.
Actually, clarified his father, Steve Coughlin, that's EXACTLY what it was like.
“He's a people person,” Dad said.
Goats - 8 a.m.
Shop - 8 a.m.
Swine - 11:30 a.m.
Shop Results - 3 p.m.
Beef - 4 p.m.
Calf Scramble - after beef