Official publication of the Texas Junior Livestock Association

There is No Way To Predict Why A Child Becomes Interested In Showing Livestock

by Cherie Carrabba Bright

Some are born into families who have always shown livestock; some become interested after they join 4-H or FFA; some have friends that show and that sparked their own interest when he or she went with those friends to a show. There are a variety of ways that children or young people start showing livestock, but no matter what created their interest, I have advice for parents who have children that exhibit livestock.

One never knows when exhibiting livestock will turn into a life-long passion. For some young people, it may be a passing fancy, but for others it becomes an interest that can change the course of their lives. As someone who has been down this road, I suggest that you begin saving every trophy, every photo, every memento of your child’s show career. If it does become a life-long interest, or if you end up with grandchildren who wish to show, you will be glad that you took the trouble to do this.

 A view of our trophy room from one corner.

My favorite room in our house is what we refer to as the “trophy room.” It is a collection of photos, trophies, and memories from Randy and Ryan’s show careers. I never fail to take visitors who have an interest in livestock exhibition to this room when they visit. What I don’t tell them is that if it were not for advice that I was given before my children started to show, we wouldn’t have the trophy room.

I am a “deadline” person. I don’t get busy until I am facing a deadline. Do I like that about myself, absolutely not, but it is the way I am wired. I seldom put much thought into next year or the year after until it is time to do so. A trip to visit Heston and Jean McBride in the hill country was one of the best trips I ever took because of the advice I got from them about nurturing a child’s show career.

The McBrides may have discarded more trophies than some of us will ever win, but they also won more things than most of us will ever win. Heston and his brother rode a freight car to the old Chicago International when they were young, so it was pretty much decided that the McBride children would exhibit livestock before they were even born.

In those days a lot of shows gave silver serving platters, silver bowls, silver cups, etc. Heston and Jean invited us to have dinner with them after we looked at cattle, and when we sat at the dinner table, much of the food was served on platters that had, at one time, been won by one of the McBrides. They had silver platters, silver bowls, all sorts of mementos from the kids show careers all over the table. I was fascinated.

 All trophy displays need a way to display those precious buckles.

I remarked to both of them about how remarkable it was to sit at a table where the serving pieces had such special family memories. It was at that point that Heston offered me some advice that I never forgot.

“Let me tell you something,” he said. “I don’t know how many of these things that we either got rid of, gave to someone else, or lost along the way, but there were lots of them, he said.

“But you have so many right here,” I replied.

“Yes, and I am grateful that we do, but I wish that I had kept everything that we ever won because when the showing is over, all you have are the memories. These things you see here represent some of those memories, but I wish that we had all of them.”

I remembered Heston’s advice from the first year that Randy showed. Even though money was tight when he first started showing, I made up my mind to buy as many photos of his wins, and later Ryan’s, as I could. I also kept every trophy, cup, bowl, etc that they ever won.

When they won something we felt was a “big accomplishment” like a breed championship at a major show, I always ordered a 16 X 20 photo. Those photos line the walls of our trophy room, and the awards, or the majority of them, are displayed on one wall in a trophy case.

Photography has changed a great deal since my own children were exhibitors, and there be a lot of people who disagree, but I think that you are better off buying a professional photograph that was taken by the show photographer than trying to do it yourself. The cattle are usually set up better than you could, and their cameras have a capability that most family cameras do not have.

Our trophy room is probably 85 percent photographs made by Barker Photography because when my children were exhibitors Barker was the official photographer for State Fair, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, the Bonanza, and the Fall Classic.. Paula and Dave and our family became great friends, and I miss them when I go to a show.

 Special trophies bring back special memories.

There are a lot of things that I love about our trophy room: the crystal trophies from San Antonio; the trophies with the H on them from Houston; the Arizona National Pewter Plates are some of those. But one of my favorite things in the trophy room is a sculpture sent to me by Dana Wilson. The two of us share a bond that someone who has never lost a child cannot understand.

She sent me one of the first sculptures she did; it is a show steer with a Champion Blanket which says “Randy Rash.” I treasure it, and I can’t ever thank her enough for her kindness.

I realize that I am fortunate to have been able to build this room, and most people would not want to go to this much time and expense, but you need to set aside a place in your home to keep your childrens’ mementoes of their show career. . I tried keeping some of the boys’ things in our barn, but they always became dirty, and some were broken simply because a lot happens in a barn and it is easy to do. So I suggest you find some corner in your house that you can dedicate to your children’s livestock accomplishments. Not only will it provide you with wonderful memories but it will show your child of your pride in his or her accomplishments.

I have seen variations on trophy rooms many times. When I look at them I also see the pride and memories on the faces of the parents and the exhibitors who shared those memories. It is a special place for an activity that I believe is one of the most valuable family activities ever created.

So whether you devote a corner, a bookcase, or a room to your children’s show careers, start early. Be sure and save those precious memories from their first shows because, in some ways, they are the most important. Their experiences at that time have a lot to do with whether they love this world or dislike it. I have a quote that was sent to me just recently which I wish I had received many years before when my children were younger.

“When you praise a child, you raise his self-esteem so that he tries harder the next time.”

So give them lots of praise along with your “suggestions” about improvement!

 Trophy displays with LED lights.