Local students compete at Coryell County Youth Fair
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The annual Coryell County Youth Fair kicked off this week as students from across the county dropped off their Home Economic entries to be judged on Tuesday and brought livestock such as horses, cattle, poultry, rabbits, and goats to be shown throughout the week.
Students from 4-H and FFA organizations across the county, including Copperas Cove, dropped off their Home Economic items at the Gatesville Civic Center starting Monday.
The Home Economics items, after judging, would be sold through the Country Store Tuesday evening. This selection of items included photography, Handicrafts, art, textile projets, baked goods and more. Categories also include woodworking and metal work.
Each type of item was divided by age division and then into further categories.
Under Baked Goods, categories ranged from cakes, cookies, candy, breads and more.
Command teams from North Fort Hood assisted in tasting and judging the dozens of Baked Goods entries Tuesday morning.
“Somebody has to judge all this stuff, and we try in the arts and crafts like woodworking, to have people who are more experts in those areas, like photography obviously, but we figured the soldiers know good food when they eat it,” said Cheri Shepherd, with the Gatesville Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We have this really strong relationship with North Fort Hood, and we try throughout the year to have events where we invite them to come be part of the community and then have events where we make them feel welcome, so this is one of our ‘Come be part of our community’ things.”
“It sounds like a delightful job, but I’m telling you there’s some occupational hazards,” Shepherd said. “They’re having to taste pickles in between because they’re super, super sweet.”
Capt. Danny Nelson and Comm. Sgt. Maj. Gilbert Garrett were judging the intermediate age division and spent their time selecting the 1st through 6th place winners for each baked good category and then select the Reserve and Grand Champion winners. Many of the items they tasted were very memorable, from the actual taste of the cake or frosting to the story included on the recipe card.
“They’re doing a great job,” Shepherd said. “It’s fun for them and they get to kind of see what the community is like, and we like having them here.”
For 1st Sgt. Richard Gentile, HCC First Sgt Community Engagement Liaison for the 2-381 Training Support Battalion, of the 120th Infantry Brigade of First Army Division West on North Fort Hood, this judging is part of something that soldiers from North Fort Hood do each year.
“Every year, we change out battalions, but the mission since 2012 has been engaging with the Gatesville community, so this is something that we do every year,” Gentile said. “With the new leadership that came in, with my unit that just came on ground, my thought was to bring the leaders from each of the supporting battalions, so that’s why we have Command Sergeant Majors and Lieutenant Colonels from each supporting battalions along with some First Sergeants and Company Commanders to get them involved and let them meet the community leaders in the county. This is our kick off for 2021, our first community engagement of 2021. Because of COVID, we haven’t been able to do much community engagements. Between that and the ‘People First’ movement that Fort Hood is doing, it’s just perfect timing for everything to come together.”
Staff Sgt. Edwin Pierce, the Public Affairs NCO IC for the First Army Division West, agreed that this judging allowed for leaders of North Fort Hood to connect with the community of Gatesville and the rest of Coryell County.
“We’ve gone through a very difficult time over the past year, dealing with COVID and everything that’s been going on, and they had a really unique opportunity to get out and interact with the local community to start rebonding and creating those ties and attachments again and realizing that the service members in the community are just as much a part of the community, even though we’re just in a different career field,” Pierce said. “We just wear the uniform every day for what we do.”
Starting at 9 a.m., soldiers made their way though each delicious baked good and scored them from 1st through 6th place before going back and selecting a Reserve and Grand Champion.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of food,” Gentile said. “There’s so much food, we should have brought more soldiers.”
Shepherd said that the judging set up for the Home Economics entries was fairly typical of previous years, with the judging process still kept secret from the students. For the animal showings, however, this year was a little different.
“The animal showing in the barn is going to be a little different because typically, the kids bring rabbits and chickens and goats and pigs and everything, and they’re all in the barn all week, and there’s judging then,” Shepherd said. “To eliminate having so many people here at one time, they’ve spread those contests out.”
Students had set times to drop off their animal the morning of or the evening before the show and judging. After the judging of each animal, the students took their animal home.
Judging of the animals began on Tuesday morning with rabbits and horses. Dairy and Angora Goats and Poultry were shown and judged on Wednesday, and Commercial Cattle, Halter Cattle, Breeding Sheep and Market Sheep were shown and judged on Thursday. Swine were weighed and classified Thursday evening, with the show scheduled for 5 p.m. today.
Commercial and Market Goats will also be shown and judged today starting at 1 p.m.
Kids who win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place will get a cash prize and a ribbon. If they earn Reserve Champion or Grand Champion, they can go to the auction on Saturday night.
Businesses, individuals and even groups like the Copperas Cove Buyers Club will be at the auction to bid on the items. A cake may go for as much as $500, Shepherd said.
“This is a big way for us to support the kids in the community,” she added.
The livestock portion of the auction is a Premium Auction, so the person who bids on the animal does not get the animal, but rather, they are showing that they support the efforts of the student. The money spent on each animal or item goes directly to the student as a reward for their hard work.
The live auction will be this Saturday, January 16, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Gatesville Civic Center located at 301 Veterans Memorial Dr. in Gatesville. Due to COVID-19, All exhibitors will need to stay outside the auction room and maintain social distancing in the barns in sale order. They will enter one side and exit the other.
There will be no standing on the wall during the sale. There will be tables and plenty of chairs to accommodate the maximum number allowed while still maintaining safe measures, according to the Coryell County Youth Fair social media page.
Watch for youth fair results including reserve and grand champions in next Friday’s Leader-Press.