CHEROKEE COUNTY —
Move over, bunnies – two new groups of animals have joined this year’s Junior Livestock Show.
Lambs and miniature cattle will make their inaugural entrance at the 65th annual stock show, which kicks off Thursday at the Cherokee County Stock Show & Exposition Center on West Loop 456, Jacksonville.
During the past several years, “we’d toss up the subject, that maybe we’d want to add lambs, then feel there was no interest,” explained stock show secretary Royce Traylor. “But the interest was definitely there this year, so we decided to add the lambs, and we’ve got eight entries.”
Considering the addition of miniature cattle – heifers – was a similar process. “Some felt there was an interest in miniature cattle, which we did not know (were a viable category), so we went ahead and put it in this year’s show,” he said.
Only two entries were signed up in this division, but organizers aren’t worried, because they’ve seen similar initial response as other categories were added.
“It may not go off real quick this year, but next year, it could be huge,” Traylor said.
Ten categories make up this year’s stock show, including poultry, rabbits, dairy, goats, lambs, swine, beef and horses, along with horticulture and shop projects.
A total of 582 entries by contestants from Future Farmers of America clubs from Alto, Wells, Bullard, Jacksonville, Rusk, New Summerfield and Troup as well as the Classic, Cloverleaf, Footbridge, Lookout and Wells 4-H groups.
This past year’s event drew 525 participants, and raised $244,000, which included sales of 103 animal projects and 63 shop projects.
“This year’s show is a whole lot bigger, to the point that we were concerned that we wouldn’t have enough room in the pavilion” at the show grounds, Traylor said. “It’s going to be very crowded, but the initial talk has been that next year, if we continue to grow like this, we may need to add another span to the pavilion.”
Meanwhile the show is generating a lot of excitement among attendee and participant alike.
“You can tell the kids are ready, just from the way their projects are looking – there are going to be some really good projects, too. Not only shop projects, but animal projects. You know how you sometimes have these gut feelings about things? I think this year is going to be a really good year,” Traylor said.
The Cherokee County stock show runs through Saturday, the day when one lucky girl will be crowned the 2014 Cherokee County Junior Livestock Show Queen, and four contestants will receive a $250 cash prize each.
Ten girls have entered the contest, said coordinator Lindsey Robertson, including Layne Hawkins, who is representing Lookout 4H Club; Grace Young, Footbridge 4H; Blair Low, Cloverleaf 4H; Aubrey McCown, New Summerfield 4H; Hayley McKnight, Wells 4H; Kayla Beth Stewart, Jacksonville FFA; Hallee Lawson, New Summerfield FFA; Caitlyn Vickers, Troup FFA; Alex Tucker, Rusk FFA; and Dominique Thompson, Alto FFA.
Other Saturday events are a noon barbecue, followed by livestock and shop project sales that begin at