Why Come to the Belt Buckle Bonanza?
I met a man from Madisonville not long ago at a political fundraiser. When we were introduced, he immediately said, “Oh, I know who you are.” I said, “You do?” and he informed me that his child had sent in her application to be a member of the TJLA.
Since new members are always one of my favorite topics, I peppered him with questions. What was her name? How old was she? What did she show? And then, the question that I have been asking for 34 years……Are you bringing her to the Belt Buckle Bonanza?
My new friends asked me if that was the show that was in July and I said, “You got it!”
“I don’t know,” he said. “Won’t it be hot at that show?
“The facilities are air-conditioned,” I replied. “Isn’t it over the Fourth of July?” was his next question. “Usually,” I continued, “but this year, the show starts on June 29 and ends on July 3. You will be back home shooting fire-works on July 4.”
So then he spit out the question he had been wanting to ask since the conversation began, “Why would I want to take my wife and kid to a jackpot show in July?”
So I decided to tell him why.
The Belt Buckle Bonanza is no ordinary jackpot show. For 34 years Texas livestock exhibitors and their families have centered their Fourth of July around a show that is known as “the summer’s major show.”
The show is larger than almost 85 percent of the State Fairs held in the country. It has the excitement and grandeur of a major show while keeping the “let me help you with that attitude” that is common among parents and exhibitors who jackpot.
There will be educational clinics at the show for those who need more training. And, the best and brightest in the livestock business are present at the Bonanza. There are so many knowledgeable people gathered at this show. A new family can learn more than they ever thought possible just by sitting around talking to people while they are at the Bonanza.
How does this show thing work—the weight cards, and weigh backs, and classification? The Bonanza will teach you, and if you have never attended a major show with your kids and their animals, you will find that the things that you learned at the Bonanza made that first major show experience much easier.
If a student is interested in participating in some of the contests offered at the major shows, then a good way to prepare for those contests is to participate in them at the Belt Buckle Bonanza. The Bonanza offers a media contest, a public speaking contest, and a swine skillathon contest for its members. We may offer a lamb skillathon, but that has not been decided yet. The San Antonio Livestock Show offers two $10,000 scholarships to the two high senior division winners. The media contest and the public speaking contest at the Bonanza will utilize the same topics as the contests at the 2012 State Fair of Texas.
Is someone in your family interested in improving their showmanship skills? When my children were showing, we would have our kids go watch the exhibitors that we considered to be the best showmen at that time. We had them sit at the arena and watch the techniques of the most expert showmen.
The Bonanza holds one of the eight TJLA sanctioned showmanship contests. If a family member is interested in competing in the showmanship contests, then this is a show to make. There are only eight contests held each year for showmanship points. A member can count six of those shows. That provision was made for those who have a lot of other extracurricular activities during the school year. You can miss two contests and only count the ones that you competed in, or you can make all the contests and drop your two extra scores.
Those who were members last year will certainly want to come to the Bonanza and attend the five different TJLA Awards Banquets that are held during the show. The newly redesigned TJLA Top Ten Jacket is sure to be a coveted item for those who fought their way into the Top Ten. The jackets gold and silver trophy belt buckles signify a great accomplishment in both Top Ten and regional competition. Presentations at the banquet will include honoring those members who were Champions at the majors as well as awarding scholarships to graduating seniors.
If you like to take a chance once in a while, the TJLA Scholarship Raffle will give you an opportunity to win one of three large cash prizes as well as have a good time.
And speaking of scholarships, another reason to attend the Belt Buckle Bonanza is because of the TJLA Scholoraship requirements. In order to be eligible for a TJLA Scholarship, you must have attended at least three Bonanzas to qualify.
The young ladies might be interested in the Miss TJLA Pageant where three age groups of girls compete to be selected as the TJLA Sweetheart, TJLA Princess or TJLA Queen. The contest is open to the membership and watching the young ladies compete in public speaking, interview, and fashion categories is always entertaining. If a member thinks that she might be interested in competing in the future, it is a good way to see the categories that the girls are judged upon and get a feel for the contest.
Is the man in the family a master when cooking on an outdoor grill? The number of families who pull travel trailers and cook out at the Bonanza will amaze you. There is someone cooking something almost 24 hours a day, and most people are very good about sharing if you are just dying to have something to eat.
Does a member want to win a truly memorable award from a show where he or she exhibited? The Bonanza is known for the quality of the awards given to the breed and reserve breed champions, the division winners, the showmanship winners, and the Grand and Reserve Grand Champions in each category.
Do you want to get a judge’s opinion on the livestock that you have already purchased for the next show year? The judges at the Belt Buckle Bonanza are all major show judges. The exhibitors will see them again at Fort Worth or San Antonio or Houston, etc. Find out what type of animal the man likes before he is the judge at one of the big majors.
Would you like to know what the best exhibitors in Texas have purchased to show next year? The quality of the animals at the Bonanza is second to none. Many of the Grand and Reserve Grand Champions selected at the Belt Buckle Bonanza have gone on to win major shows.
Does a member want to earn enough points to be in the Top Ten of a breed division or does he or she really want to be the Champion of his or her region? The points at the Bonanza are doubled both in the state wide competition and for all of the regional competition in all five regions. If someone is looking for the biggest bang for their buck as far as TJLA points are concerned, the Bonanza is the place to enter and exhibit.
Does a member want to be considered the best (junior, intermediate, senior) livestock judge in Texas? The Bonanza’s livestock judging contest is a big part of the year end results for the Top Ten in the TJLA Livestock Judging Divisions.
Do you want to attend a show where everyone is a winner? Come to the Bonanza this year where a special treat is going to be available to every exhibitor.
Do you like becoming a part of the history and tradition of livestock exhibition? The Belt Buckle Bonanza is the show to attend. The records of the Bonanza and its Champions go back to the inception of the show, and the history of the show is being gathered for what will become a book on the many exhibitors who have exhibited at the Bonanza.
And, finally, if I were going to have to pick the one show where, traditionally, everyone has a good time, then I believe that a vast majority of livestock exhibitors and their families would pick the Belt Buckle Bonanza. If you are a livestock family, you probably sit around and talk about your experiences as you have gone down the road. There is not a family that I know that has not started several conversations with, “Do you remember that time at the Bonanza when…..”
Don’t miss being a part of this fabulous, history making event — in all of its facets. Make plans to attend this year’s Belt Buckle Bonanza.