Official publication of the Texas Junior Livestock Association

Do Awards or Premium Money Attract Entries to a Show?

By Cherie Carrabba Bright

We have an ongoing debate at my house about ways to attract exhibitors to a jackpot show. My husband, who has shown a great deal and whose children and step-children all exhibited has an outlook that he has shared with me frequently. “We never went to a jackpot show unless we thought that there was a significant about of prize money involved,” he has told me several times.

“Well you might have had to sit at home a long time in this state before you went to a show,” I told him. How can a show manager of a jackpot show give a significant amount of prize money and not risk financial ruin?” I asked.

“They do it in California,” he said.

“Well there must be “‘gold’ in them their hills,” I said repeating an often spoken adage about California. “I want to take you through a budget scenario for the Belt Buckle Bonanza, and then I want you to tell me how to do it.” I retorted.

I then listed all the things that we pay for at the Bonanza:

Facility Costs – Between $38,000 and $40,000.00

Belt Buckles for All Breed Champions app $10,000.00

Awards for all Reserve Breed Champions,

Showmanship Champions, the Grand, Reserve, Third

Fourth and Fifth Overall in Rings A&B, and then the

Supreme Grand, Reserve, Third, Fourth, and Fifth

Supreme Champions and class awards in all classes in all five species-approximately $19,000.00

Judges fees, classifiers fees and travel to and from the show approximately $13,000.00

Hotel Rooms for Staff and Judges about $11,000.00

Throw in another $5,000 for decorations, meals, soft drinks, equipment rental, freight.

“That is somewhere around $98,000 before you ever write a premium check,” I continued.

“Yes, but you have sponsorships,” he said. “And the total of all sponsorships is about $20,000 for the title sponsorship and the individual show sponsorships if you get the all sponsored. So that takes us back to $78,000.”

“Well aren’t the majority of those buckles sponsored?” he asked, “The majority of the cattle and swine buckles are sponsored, but not all of them, but very few of the other awards are sponsored. Somehow, it is not nearly as appealing to sponsor an ‘award’ as it is a buckle., I continued. “And if it were not for the generosity of the people donating those buckles or awards, we could not give them.”

The past two years you have advertised premiums for the Grands, Reserves, etc.” he said.

“That is absolutely right, but we also had entry numbers tied to those advertised premiums.

If the goat premiums were calculated based upon 250 entries, and you only got 150, then the premiums are adjusted to 60 percent of what we would give with 250 premiums,” I explained.

“Well, I think the premiums should be guaranteed no matter the number entered.” he said.

“Well, then why don’t you donate the money for all those premiums so we can guarantee them,” I asked. “That would be almost $10,000 without ever paying a breed champion,” I explained.

“If it were me, I would not give away so many buckles or awards,” he said. “Then you could guarantee the premiums.”

“James, I want to explain something to you, and I really want you to listen. It is the child that wins showmanship or the kid that is the Reserve Red ‘Hippopotamus’ and the others who place down in the classes that allow all show managers to put on jackpot shows. The majority of them are not going to have the Grand or Reserve or Third or Fourth of Fifth Overall. They are the ones that come, and spend their families money and more often than not, use something like the Belt Buckle Bonanza as their family vacation who allow the show to continue. And those awards are more important to a lot of those kids than money. Kids basically don’t care about money; their parents who are paying for it are the ones that care about money. Kids want a buckle, an award, a banner, a trophy, something which they can take home and put on a shelf and show their grandmother.”

“That is your opinion,” he said. “Yes, it is, and it would take an large amount of input from exhibitors and families to change my mind.” I replied.

We finally came to a compromise. The Sullivan Supply South Camp Show, which will be in the record books when you read this is generally the smallest of our three shows. It is held early in the year when a lot of kids don’t have their projects ready to show. I took the step of guaranteeing the Champion Premiums at the CAMP Show, and I didn’t tie it back to the entries. It wasn’t a lot of premium money, a little over $3500.00 in guaranteed premiums. That satisfied James.

When we first started having the CAMP Show it was suppose to be a points show only since it was viewed as simply an educational show and a way to pay for CAMP. Of course, since I am my own worse enemy, I couldn’t stand it. About three or four years ago, I started giving awards which have expanded to an award for all breed and reserve breed champions, as well as showmanship, Supremes, Reserves, Thirds, Fourth, and Fifth Overall. What started out so small has now become significant, but I did guarantee the Champion premiums and we will see if that is going to make one bit of difference in whether someone enters or not.

Since I don’t know the results yet, I will report back to you. But in my opinion, right now, it is very important to give the kids—the actual exhibitors —an award when they do well. And I don’t think I am going to change my mind! Read the June digital issue of The Showbox to see the results!