2021 Cherokee County Junior Livestock Show a go

by Lauren LaFleur Contributing writer

The 2021 Cherokee County Junior Livestock Show is on – a decision the CCJLS Board made before Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the reopening of the state, and organizers couldn’t be more thrilled.

"We have overcome so much," said CCJLS president Bart Bauer. "When last year's show was canceled, it was sickening. It was terrible. It was like losing a kid. This is a year-round effort, and it just made us sick to have to cancel last year.”

Not only do the kids who enter the show have to invest at a minimum six weeks in a project, but the show is also a year-round effort for many, so canceling was a disappointment in 2020, he said.

The March 24-27 show will be the first big event held in the county since the state shut down in last March due to COVID-19.

“This will be our second first,” he noted. “We had our banquet in June, and it was the first time people were able to gather since the shutdown. We decided to have the show because we thought if there could be football games and track meets, you could have the show.”

Bauer said before Abbott's announcement, the CCJLS decided to follow all health and safety protocols in place at the time of the show. Fortunately, he said, Abbott's decision means the show can allow more people in, and even though safety measures will be in place, people will get to enjoy the event and support the kids who've entered.

“These kids are the best,” Bauer said. “They’re into other things, like sports, one-act play, so they really have to learn time management to participate in the stock show.”

This year’s event will include 400 exhibits and 700 projects, which represent five 4-H clubs and seven different schools, Bauer said, with a few changes in the numbers of each classification of entry.

“Beef, cattle, chickens, rabbits, photography, horticulture and baked goods are all up,” he said. “Goats, dairy, sheep and shop are down this year.”

He said he feels the shift in amounts of each kind of entry reflects how people are choosing to invest their time and money, in case cancellations happen.

In addition to the numbers of exhibits changing a bit for this year’s show, Bauer said the horse competition will be in the evening for the first time this year.

Despite how life has changed for so many due to the pandemic, Bauer said the show has garnered lots of support from many people and organizations this year – CHRISTUS Mother Frances Health System, Timber Wolf Land Clearing, Farm Bureau and The Cowboy Churches, to name a few.

Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis said he is glad the show will go on this year.

“What better way for us to open the county back up than with the stock show,” he said. “It’s so important to so many people. Be careful as you attend this show because the enthusiasm of these young people is contagious.”

He said current safety protocols will be in place, but people can, of course, wear masks and take any other precautions they feel they want to take.

“But it’s their choice,” Davis said.

Last year’s cancellation didn’t mean some aspects of the show didn’t remain in place – Bauer said 10 $1,000 scholarships were awarded as part of $40,000 total in scholarships given to students.

“Even with COVID and not getting to have the show, we still raised $130,000 in 2020,” he said.

There were quite a few factors the organization had to overcome to make this year’s show a reality: In addition to the pandemic and its accompanying protocols, Bauer said the barn’s roof collapse was another hurdle.

Repairs are complete, and some square footage was added to the barn in the process, he said.

Meanwhile an event that was to debut this year – a stock show for special needs children – will be put on hold until next year for safety reasons, Bauer said.

“So that will make its debut in 2022,” he said.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (dshs.texas.gov), current safety guidelines strongly encourage the use of masks when six feet of social distancing from people not in the same household is not feasible, but masks are no longer legally required.

The state website also provides minimum operating guidelines specifically for equestrian/rodeo events, which include encouraging remote ticketing options, ensure proper spacing between patrons in the arena, and other guidelines relating to proper food service, health protocols for workers and volunteers, and health protocols for the facility used.

The Cherokee County Junior Livestock Show and Exhibition will run March 24-27, at the show barn located at 611 S.E. Loop 456 in Jacksonville. The schedule of events can be found at cherokeecountyexpo.org