By Lindsay Starr Platt, Correspondent
Bell County Youth Fair & Livestock Show came and went this year and hundreds of children from all over Bell County had the chance to show off their projects and the results of their hard work during the week long fair and livestock show at the Bell County Expo Center.
On Saturday, February 6 there was a “Fashion Revue” and clothing that was entered into Family & Consumer Sciences for Clothing Categories was modeled runway style in a public show. Following the Fashion Revue, Clem Mikeska and his family kicked off the event with the 46th annual barbeque dinner and dance for the Exhibitor Appreciation Supper and Dance. They served hundreds of youth that night in a tradition they will keep for years to come.
“I love fashion. Fashion Revue is kind of like our local “Project Runway”. I started sewing three years ago, a simple skirt inspired by Lilly Pulitzer with a lot of help. When I won I was hooked!” said Grace Pohl, member, Tigertown 4-H Club. “I love fashion design. And with many, many after school lessons from my 4-H graduate mentor, Victoria Buckner. I have some legit skills to go along with my fashion sense.”
“Grace made her specialty 1950’s outfit petticoat, skirt with a hand Czech beaded poodle, cotton shirt with French seams and custom velvet letterman jacket,” said Lynda Pohl. “She plans on wearing it to the Belton Junior Cotillion Spring Sock Hop.”
One of the highlights of the fair is the livestock show. Children entering animals spend many hours at the fairgrounds often napping and eating inside the stalls.
“It’s a lot of work and long days. This is my first year showing,” said Keegan Mantel, junior, Belton High School, Future Farmers of America (FFA). “I will do it again next year. I might even win some money this year.”
In addition to the livestock show is the youth fair and the Family and Consumer Science Division, which boast entries from baked goods, art, textile crafts, clothing and fashion, woodworking and creative arts.
“We have some excellent entries this year. Very talented young students, they work all year on their projects. And even the night before fair they are working, if they have baked goods they have been practicing and have a fresh entry ready to enter,” said Jackie McLaughlin, extension agent, Texas A&M Agrilife. “We have 3,000 entries just in the Family and Consumer Science Division this year.”
“Really good entries this year, the kids put in a lot of time and work,” said Renee McNamara, woodworking and leather superintendent.
Nearly 200 judges volunteered this year to judge baked goods, such as cake, pie and brownies. After baked good entries are judged, they have the chance to go to the “Country Store” where attendees of the fair can purchase the items up for sale.
“Overall we have some great entries. I’m impressed with their hard work ages 8-13 and 14-18, and they are doing something like canning. Canning is like a dying art, they are the next generation carrying it on,” said Dawn Orange, superintendent, food preservation.
The major attraction to the Bell County Youth Fair is the rodeo. Every year the rodeo kicks off with the “Mini Rodeo” and invites area schools, daycare facilities and the public to watch the rodeo on a smaller scale. The Mini Rodeo is a great chance to see the children show off their riding and roping skills.
“It is really interesting and fun. I liked getting to see five and six year olds do barrel racing,” said Marian Bourland, student, Classical Conservation Homeschool.
Children from Belton Early Childhood Development said they enjoyed seeing the bulls and the horses.
This past weekend closed out the week-long fair and livestock show with the three-day Bell County PRCA Rodeo. The Bell County PRCA Rodeo brings in rodeo acts from all over the state and beyond. Competitions in roping, riding and barrel racing had fans jumping out of their seat to cheer the cowboys and cowgirls on. 5,400 fans attended the rodeo just on Friday and Saturday nights.
“I don’t think people realize what a good rodeo we have here in Belton in February. We get all the big names here. The Fourth of July rodeo does not draw near the same crowds,” commented John Taggert.
Spectators also have the chance to see area children show their skills on the “woolly bully” as compete in “mutton bustin’”. Children grab onto the sheep’s wool and ride bareback in hopes of staying on the sheep for the longest amount of time.
“It’s fun! My favorite is the mutton bustin’,” said Bryland Miller, age eight, Ding Dong resident.
“I love the rodeos. I’m a Texas girl all the way,” remarked Glenda Berry, Belton resident.
“Great! Very interesting. Makes me proud to be a Texan every time I come,” commented Tabitha Egbert, Morgan’s Point Resort resident.
After a few rounds of rodeo competitions, out came the clowns. A rodeo is not a rodeo without its rodeo clowns. Children love to see the clown’s antics and the adults love to hear their jokes.
“It’s been a real good time, a really good time. I am ready for the bull riding,” said Steven Mendez, Temple resident.
“Great fans. I love that they cheer a lot. That is what makes this deal work for us, is the fans,” commented, Clay Elliot, rodeo contestant, saddle bronc rider, Nanton, Alberta, Canada resident.