Cove students preparing for Coryell County Youth Fair
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Students in the 4-H and FFA programs in Copperas Cove and other cities and towns in Coryell County have been preparing to show their talent and their animals at this week’s Coryell County Youth Fair, to be held at the county fairgrounds complex and the Gatesville Civic Center Wednesday through Saturday.
Among them are Kaylee Williams and Tori Schwausch, members of the Copperas Cove FFA Club.
Williams, 13, attends S.C. Lee Junior High School and is readying four of her goats for the show. She is a third-generation FFA student, with her mother, Renee, who teaches at House Creek Elementary, and her grandfather also having belonged to FFA when they were students.
“I like showing goats and working with them, just because they’ve got so much personality,” said Kaylee. “I also show rabbits and sheep.”
The best she’s done with her goats was second place at the county fair, and this year she has chosen her best to take into the ring. She said the judges look at things like muscling, wide chest, a goat’s length and shoulders, and weight, if they’re not too fat, not too skinny.
On Saturday, Kaylee stayed busy bathing her goats, drying and then shearing them in preparation for the show ring this week, with Renee on hand to help.
“I also showed goats; I didn’t do the raising part,” said Renee. “She also got hooked into raising them, and she does the registered stock, so she’ll go to the registered show.”
In addition to showing her animals, Kaylee is making fudge and also salsa this year in hopes to impress the judges and win.
Tori Schwausch is a senior at Copperas Cove High School, and has grown up around livestock shows, with her father, Neil Schwausch, a prior ag teacher for 20 years.
“I grew up around all of this; my mom tells me that my first stock show was when I was three months old,” said Schwausch.
She is looking forward to putting six of her pigs through their paces in front of the judges.
“It’s the most I’ve ever had. Last year I had four. But my dad and I talked about it a lot before in the summer, when we start planning where we’re going to get pigs from and what kind, and we both decided to try to go out with a bang and do as much as we can.”
Schwausch has been showing pigs since 2009, and by the time she graduates this May, she’ll have been showing pigs for 10 years.
This week marks the beginning of her show season, with Schwausch also looking ahead events like the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Houston Livestock Show, the Heart of Texas Fair and Rodeo.
The fair opens on Wednesday to the public at 5:30 p.m., during which time home economics and art entries can be viewed, with the country store opening for sales of baked goods at 6 p.m. The fair is also open to the public on Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday.
Starting with dairy goats on Friday, judging takes place in the poultry, commercial and market goats, and swine categories.
Saturday is the big day for the competitors – auction day, with photos to be taken of the grand and reserve championship entries and culminating with the premium auction on Saturday night at 5:30 p.m.
Among the students’ entries are livestock such as swine, sheep, goats, cattle, horses, chickens, and rabbits, and home economics like sewn apparel, needlework, and textiles, photography, painting, preserved goods like jams and jellies, and more.
Only the top winning entries, such as Grand and Reserve Champion, and 1st, 2nd, and 3 place entries make it to the Saturday night auction, where local supporters such as the Copperas Cove Buyer’s Club will bid on the students’ items.
In the case of winning entries like livestock, bidders don’t get to keep the actual animal, but instead the student will often provide a gift basket item of appreciation to their financial supporter.
All funds raised in Saturday night’s auction will go to the students directly, with the students then putting the money back into their efforts for the following year, whether it be for buying more livestock or in the case of home economics or art projects, more supplies.
Both Williams and Schwausch have hopes of their entries placing high enough to make it into the auction.
Every time I’ve made the sale, it’s something I’m proud of and very thankful for, said Schwausch. The Copperas Cove Buyer’s Club and local businesses have really worked together to raise money for all the Copperas Cove students who made the sale, to give us money and show us something tangible we can earn for our heard work. We keep our animals at the county fair. In San Antonio, I don’t get the pig back. I get the money.”
For Schwausch and fellow high school seniors competing, they receive the money for their future.
“The Buyer’s Club tries really hard especially for the seniors, to give us money that we can use in college. In the past years, the money I’ve gotten for the sale, it goes for more pigs the next year, to help pay for feed, show supplies, for the next year, whatever we need.”
Schwausch has her sights set on attending the University of Texas at Austin and majoring in government.
She reflected on what participating in projects over the years has meant to her.
“I love being able to spend time with my family, that’s the biggest thing. When my dad was still teaching, it was me and my dad, and now it’s something thing my mom and I do. We get a lot of time with each other. We’ve been showing with people who’ve been doing it just as long as I have.
“It’s the people we get to travel with, and spending time with them. It’s the thing I’ve been the most thankful for.”