Coryell County youth participate in annual fair
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The annual Coryell County Youth Fair concluded with its live auction on Saturday night at the Gatesville Civic Center, featuring 215 entries of kids from across the county who placed sixth and up with their animals or Reserve Champion and Grand Champion with their Home Economics projects.
A total of 18 students from Copperas Cove made it to the auction Saturday night, to include 11 from the Copperas Cove FFA organization and seven from the Five Hills 4-H Club.
The ninth kid of the evening and the first from Copperas Cove was Peyton Velesky, with the Copperas Cove FFA, who earned $1,000 for her Grand Champion Breeding Swine from Viss Family Funeral Home through the Copperas Cove Buyer’s Club.
Lane Ledger, with Five Hills 4-H, earned $1,600 for his Grand Champion Turkey. CCHS senior Bailey Alber, with the Copperas Cove FFA, earned $900 for his Reserve Grand Champion 6-Class Rabbit. Naysa Anzaldua, with the Copperas Cove FFA, earned $850 for her Grand Champion 4-Class Group 1 rabbit from Cove Plumbing. Shaylee Velesky earned $900 for her Grand Champion York pig from Real Smart Realty. Noah Haag, with Five Hills 4-H, earned $700 for his Grand Champion cupcakes from Coryell County Judge Roger Miller.
Miya Rogers, with Copperas Cove FFA, earned $800 from HEB for her 2nd place Fryer chicken. CCHS senior Sarah Hudson earned $750 for her second place FWX (Finewool Cross) Lamb, plus a $400 senior add on. CCHS senior Lillie Valdez, with the Five Hills 4-H, earned $800 for her second-place turkey, from A&S. Alexis Skye-Smith, with the Copperas Cove FFA, earned $600 for her Grand Champion Other Cookie.
Lana Ledger, with the Five Hills 4-H, earned $1,600 for her second-place Turkey, from Crawford Bowers Funeral Home. Cooper Aulabaugh, with the Five Hills 4-H, earned $600 for his second-place Heavy Weight Goat, from Abstract and Title. Katielynn Velesky, with the Copperas Cove FFA, earned $750 for her second-place Hampshire Pig. Thomas Shotwell, with the Copperas Cove FFA, earned $700 for his Reserve Champion Pickled Vegetable.
For the Velesky girls, showing livestock is in their blood. Their mother, father, brother, uncle and grandfather all showed animals. Peyton Velesky showed her Berkshire pig named Stella and earned Grand Champion Breeding. She has been showing pigs for four years now. Shaylee Velesky showed her Yorkshire pig named Squeaker and earned Grand Champion Yorkshire. Katielynn Velesky showed her Hampshire pig named Batty and earned second place. They have been showing pigs for three years and two years now.
Mom Tobie Velesky said her favorite thing about showing when she was younger was the opportunities that it opened up and the memories it created.
“I was fortunate enough to travel all over the U.S. exhibiting show lambs for breeders from all over our nation,” Tobie said. “I can honestly say it allowed me to develop so many skill sets I use in my professional career now.”
Watching her daughters show their animals in the same rings she did is “surreal,” she said.
“With every show and every ring they enter, I see their love and growth in not just the projects they exhibit but also in their love for the agricultural industry,” Tobie said. “I am proud to raise my kids in a barn.”
This year’s auction was bittersweet for the seniors who will graduate in the spring.
Senior Bailey Alber joined the Copperas Cove FFA his freshman year with the hopes of raising rabbits to later show them and possibly earn money. This year marked his second year going to the auction, he said.
“It takes a lot of hard work,” Alber said. “I’m grinding every day, afternoon, day and night, just trying to get rabbits to be the best that I can.”
After high school, Alber hopes to join the United States Air Force and become a pilot.
Senior Lillie Valdez has been with the Five Hills 4-H organization for eight years, since fifth grade, and started off showing goats. She has since moved on to showing turkeys.
“I’m so sad,” Valdez said about her final show and auction of her high school career. “I wish I could do it again because I love showing so much, and I’m so sad I don’t get to do it after this year.”
Valdez said her favorite part of participating in the Coryell County Youth Fair is getting to meet others.
When in the show ring with other exhibitors, Valdez said she enjoyed talking to them and getting to know them “in a way that you wouldn’t if y’all were just out doing anything in the world.”
Valdez plans to attend Texas Tech University and possibly major in Global Studies.
Lane Ledger, with Five Hills 4-H, showed chickens and turkeys with his sister, Lana, and earned Grand Champion and Reserve Champion with his turkeys. This was his third year to win Grand Champion Turkey.
“I enjoy spending time with the animals, and truly earning your money,” Lane said. “Truly learning about how to take care of animals and earning your money for yourself.”
Lana earned second place with her chicken and her turkey this year.
“It makes me feel really good, because it makes me feel like I’m doing something for the animal, and it makes me proud that I did that and made them win,” Lana said.
For their mom, Tiffany Ledger, showing animals and participating in the fair is something that helps keep the kids busy, but it is a lot of work, she said.
She said the fact that both kids made it to the auction was exciting.
As of press time, the estimated total amount raised at the auction was $249,000 for Coryell County youth.