By Rachel Madison
More than 500 animals were shown by students from across Central Texas at the annual Liberty Hill Jackpot Livestock Show hosted by the Liberty Hill FFA last weekend.
Zach Brown, agriculture science teacher at Liberty Hill High School, Liberty Hill FFA advisor and organizer of the event, said the show couldn’t have gone any better.
“This was the 20th annual Jackpot Show,” he said. “It’s the second year it’s been really big. It was a huge success. We had over 535 total animal entries and an estimated 3,000 people that visited the show in total. Although the weather did not cooperate for us on Sunday, it was still a great day.”
The event was held at the new Liberty Hill FFA agriculture barn facility. Animals shown throughout the weekend included hogs, goats, sheep, steers and heifers. Judges at the show were Josh Elkins for hogs, Colten Fritz for sheep and goats, and Ryan Cummins for cattle. Students ranged in age from 5 to 18.
Liberty Hill Intermediate student Kolten McDaniel, 11, showed two hogs and won a couple of breed awards.
“I won first place with the cross and second place with the Yorkshire,” he said. “I started showing hogs last year and this is my second time winning. I started doing it because it looks good on your college applications. It was a lot of fun because my friends did it, too. I want to keep on moving up and getting better every year. It felt great to win. I was nervous, but it felt great.”
LHHS senior Cassidey Weems, 18, showed four medium wool lambs at the show. Weems, who is also the chapter secretary for the Liberty Hill FFA this year, earned a fourth place ribbon with one of her lambs. She added that having the opportunity to get in the ring and work on her showmanship skills was an important part of the show for her.
“It wasn’t my best weekend for exhibiting, but I got some critiques back that I’m looking forward to working on,” she said. “I’ve been showing animals since the seventh grade and I’ve loved every minute of it. Being able to walk away with some new ideas and improvements you can make on your animals is one of the great parts of these shows.”
LHHS sophomore Lauren Bailey, 15, showed three cross breed hogs during the show. With one of them, she earned a second place award in its class. Bailey, who also serves as chapter treasurer for the Liberty Hill FFA, has shown animals for the last four years and said the show was a really good experience.
“The Jackpot Show was kind of like a scrimmage,” she said. “It’s a practice show for the county show and the major shows that are in Fort Worth and San Antonio. It gets us prepared and lets us see how our animals do and how we do.”
Harper Owen, 16, a junior at LHHS and a Liberty Hill FFA member, showed Hampshire and Cross-Hampshire hogs during the show. Although he didn’t receive any awards, he was grateful for the practice the show gave him.
“This is my third year,” he said. “I started showing as a freshman. This show basically helped me practice and figure out what the judges want out of my animals. And it’s great that the experience can help with future job applications and college applications.”
Although Liberty Hill was well represented at the show, many students also came from across Central Texas to show their animals.
Five-year-old Troy resident Arriat Singleton was at the livestock show for the first time ever to show her dorper sheep, and was excited to follow in her older sister’s footsteps, who was also at the event to show sheep. Her sister, Addison Singleton, 11, received first and second place breed awards with her fine wool sheep.
Seventeen-year-old Austin resident Bryce Howsey also came out to the livestock show to show his Brahman heifer.
“I wanted the experience and to see how she does,” he said. “She did a clinic over the summer but this is her first real show. I did a show last year with pigs, so this is my first year with a heifer. It’s fun to do and be here with all these other people who are here to do the same thing. And of course it’s fun to win.”
Deanna Blunt, 18, came to the show from Conroe to show her Boer goat.
“I have a best friend in Liberty Hill, so when we decided to come see her we thought we’d come to do a show too,” she said. “I got involved in showing animals in high school, so I’ve done it the last four years. [I enjoy] the responsibility I’ve gained and the experience I’ve had with the family atmosphere at shows. I did not expect a show like this. Liberty Hill is a small town so I expected a small show, but it seems like all of Central Texas is here.”
Buckles for grand and reserve champions as well as junior and senior showmanship were awarded. In addition, breed champions received rosette ribbons and embroidered bags. For a little fun, the show also had an “old fart” showmanship, which allowed parents of students showing to try their hand at showmanship as well.
Brown said besides being a great community event and a major fundraiser for the Liberty Hill FFA program, the show was also a good opportunity for kids to get their animals in a show and get them practicing for upcoming county shows and major stock shows.
“It’s a good opportunity to get practice in and get insight on the animals from the judges,” he said. “Our students, parents and parent organizations are all deserving of a huge thank you for everything they did. [More than 500] animals is bigger than many and most county shows and one of the biggest jackpot shows I have ever heard of. Everything went very smoothly and it was a great weekend for Liberty Hill FFA, Liberty Hill Livestock Association and the Liberty Hill Young Farmers.”