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A Review of the Texas Economy from the Office of Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts · July 2011

Stock Shows Fund Futures

All across Texas, thousands of kids save livestock auction proceeds, most often for college scholarships or expenses.

Stock Shows Fund Futures - Texas Kids Earn College Dollars by Raising Top Livestock

By Gerard MacCrossan

“Well, KST came today to play! They just bought the Reserve Grand Champion Barrow for $6,000!”

“Sir, we cannot appreciate you being here enough. Grand Champion Lamb. Reserve Grand Champion Lamb. Grand Champion Barrow and Reserve Grand Champion Barrow to KST Electric.”

As the auctioneer concluded, raucous applause for KST Electric President Kenneth Tumlinson echoed around the marble foyer of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, signaling the end of Tanner Gerngross’s 2011 livestock show season.

In the last decade,
Texas’ Major junior stock shows have raised more than
for education.

The 14-year-old Wall FFA (Future Farmers of America) member was just one place shy of the top spot at the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo Junior Barrow Show. (A barrow, for those of us who generally encounter pork only at the supermarket, is a male pig.) Gerngross’s Hampshire pig won best of breed and took the Reserve Grand Champion Barrow spot, second-highest honor at the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo.

Gerngross was delighted with his achievement.

“I knew he was good — good enough to win his class, but not reserve champion overall,” Tanner says.

Kenneth Tumlinson, president of KST Electric, left, pictured with the Gerngross family after paying $6,000 for Tanner’s barrow at the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo auction.

Raise Animals, Earn A College Fund

In 2011, at the Houston Livestock show and rodeo, The Grand Champion Steer sold for
The Winning exhibitor Receives:
The Remaining
Is shared among scholarships for other youths
More than
Texas Youths have received scholarships through a fund maintained by the Houston Show

Raising animals for show is a way of connecting to Texas’ rural past, particularly the local shows that draw hundreds of kids to compete against their neighbors. Texas’ modern major stock shows and rodeos, however, have become massive enterprises that allow wealthy Texans and companies to share their good fortune with the youths they see as the state’s future.

The auction at the smallest major Texas stock show, San Angelo’s, generates almost half a million dollars annually. Austin’s Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, which expanded to become a statewide show during the past decade, raised about $800,000 at the 2011 youth auction. Fort Worth’s stock show raises about $2.8 million, and San Antonio’s about $3.5 million.

The biggest money, though, is at Houston’s livestock show, which in 2011 generated an estimated $4.5 million, reaching pre-recession levels of success.

It’s the ability to benefit kids who are working hard for their success that spurs bidders to contribute so much at junior livestock show auctions.

Paul Somerville,
Former Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Chairman of the Board

Former Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Chairman of the Board Paul Somerville describes the Houston Livestock Show as “the Super Bowl” of such events. Each year, the grand champion animals sell for six-figure sums.

Houston’s Grand Champion Steer, for instance, sold for $600,001 in 2002. In 2011, a Charolais raised by 17-year-old Koby Long of Collingsworth County commanded a $350,000 premium; it was bought by a partnership of Somerville, chairman and CEO of Associated Pipeline Contractors , and Tilman Fertitta, president, CEO and principal shareholder of Landry’s Restaurants.

“Every young person has some kind of a dream to achieve a goal,” Somerville says. “We help to set those goals for young people in the ag business. All these kids want to come out and win the top prize.”

For Somerville, the value of supporting youth through the stock show is extremely personal. Five years ago, while his late wife was undergoing treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center he learned firsthand how huge an impact the stock show could have. “A doctor came up to me and introduced himself. His name is Dr. Garth Beinart,” Somerville recalls. “He said to me, ‘17 years ago, you took my mother and me to dinner and gave me a Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship. And now I am your doctor.’”

Somerville says the effect of the scholarship to Dr. Beinart goes far beyond just his family.

“He’ll treat thousands of people,” Somerville adds.

The same goes for the hundreds of other youths that earn scholarships from Houston every year.

“The show helps kids at the far reaches of the state and sends them to close to 100 colleges,” he says.

Major Loot for Grand Champions

At Texas’ largest junior livestock shows, kids show animals to earn big prize money, typically for scholarships. In 2011, top prizes ranged from $2,200 to a whopping $350,000.








San Angelo $19,600 $8,750 $15,000 $12,200
Star of Texas $60,000 $10,000 $10,300 $10,000 $3,500 $4,500 $4,500 $2,200
Fort Worth $185,000 $110,000 $35,000 $100,000
San Antonio $85,250 $48,100 $50,000 $39,500 $16,300 $17,100
Houston $350,000 $177,000 $140,000 $190,000 $88,000 $120,000

Sources: San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

While the sums are huge, the cash any child can take home from a stock show is capped. In Houston, the grand champion steer cap is $85,000. Although the sale price was more than four times that amount, the amount over the cap is shared with other participants through a scholarship fund maintained by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. More than 300,000 Texas youths have received scholarships through the fund.

Somerville says that, as an executive committee member of the Houston show, he knows exactly where the money goes.

“No overhead is taken out, it all goes directly to education,” he says. Running costs are covered by ticket sales and 24,000 volunteers provide most of the event’s labor. “It rewards kids who maybe don’t have the same opportunities [as those raising animals]. The distribution means all those kids get to participate.

“As far as I am concerned, every kid is a winner,” Somerville adds. “Whatever the child does, they take on a task that means they have to get up in the morning to work at it. They’ve learned to set a goal and complete a task.”

Junior Livestock: Texas’ Top Five

The largest junior livestock shows draw thousands of Texas FFA and 4-H members from points all over Texas’ compass. Their aim is to raise top-quality animals and help generous Texans invest huge sums in the state’s future.

East About 24,000 volunteers ensure that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the state’s largest, runs smoothly each year. For almost 80 years, Houston’s has been the pinnacle of junior livestock shows, drawing more than 7,000 exhibitors. In all, 1,850 livestock entries qualified for the 2011 livestock auction, which raised $4.5 million.

North Since its 1896 founding, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo has grown to include many events and thousands of livestock entries. In 2004, its record year, livestock sales totaled more than $4.3 million. In 2011, 1,827 livestock entries were auctioned, generating more than $3.4 million in prize money for Texas kids.

West The San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo brings together about 3,500 junior entrants from all around Texas to compete for 194 auction places. Its 2011 auction generated record revenue of $453,000.

South San Antonio has been holding agricultural shows since 1854. The modern San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo began in 1950 and has grown to become a multi-week event. The 2011 show saw 983 youth junior livestock projects auctioned. Recent auctions have raised about $3.5 million annually to benefit participating youths.

Central Although its roots date back to 1938, Austin’s Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo has the state’s newest junior livestock show, welcoming kids from across Texas since 2007. The Star gets bigger each year. More than 400 youths earned a place in the 2011 auction, which generated about $800,000.

Hard Work Pays Off

Tanner Gerngross’ path to Star of Texas success began during the sweaty 100-degree days of August outside San Angelo, where his family farms cotton, milo and wheat on about 3,000 acres. For the past seven years, show animals have had a place on the farm, too — barrows the Gerngross children have raised to show at local and statewide junior livestock shows in Tom Green County and across the state.

Feeding before dawn, showmanship practice after school and evenings spent mucking out barns are everyday life for thousands of Texas kids.

The Hampshire showed promise early on, winning his class at the county show. The judge’s comments and the pig’s performance there told Tanner where he needed to sharpen up.

“We work with the pigs at our house a lot,” Tanner says. “When you work with them more, they know what the stick means and where to go.”

Many of the kids don’t live on farms or ranches, but they’re still working hard at raising goats or lambs, poultry or cattle, swine or rabbits in their yards, FFA barns or wherever they can. Their parents invest in young animals and feed so their kids can focus on the auction sales and scholarships that will fund future college tuition, their reward for raising top-quality animals.

2011 Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo Barrow Judge Brian Anderson watches as Tanner Gerngross shows his breed champion Hampshire. The barrow earned Tanner the reserve grand champion buckle for overall second place among all swine breeds at the show.

Star of Texas Barrow Judge Brian Anderson recognizes the discipline and character learned through raising animals. Just before he announced the 2011 grand champion, he had a few words of praise for all participants.

“The depth of quality of the animals is up in 2010, but the quality of kids never changes,” he says. “The best kids in the country are 4-H and FFA.”

For most kids, a big payout is a few hundred dollars at their county show. By the time they graduate high school, they can build their savings up to several thousand dollars. For the most successful at one of the “majors,” though, the check can reach tens of thousands of dollars.

All across Texas, thousands of kids save livestock auction proceeds, most often for college scholarships or expenses.

“My dad has a bank account for the auction money,” Tanner says. “I have three siblings and we’ll split it up four ways. If one does well, we all do well.”

Marcus and Jennifer Gerngross ensure that each of their children works with the pig herd and all share in the family’s success. When the Gerngross family started with 20 barrows last August, it was impossible to know who’d end up as pick of the pen.

“We never know who’s going to do best. That’s why we split it up,” Tanner says.

On the Auction Block

At the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo youth auction on March 25, 384 kids, including the top 20 placing in the Western Art Show, saw their efforts rewarded by buyers who combined to spend $800,125, the second-highest total in the event’s history. These youths were the most successful of thousands who came to the annual show during the previous two weeks.

Walking to the auction podium under the dome of the Bob Bullock museum was the final step in a seven-month journey for Tanner Gerngross. While his reserve grand champion barrow snoozed in a pen outside, Tanner nervously clutched his winner’s banner and looked out across the tables of buyers as the auctioneer coaxed bids from them.

And in a minute it was over, and Tanner headed down to offer his thanks, handing over a gift basket his mom Jennifer brought for buyer Kenneth Tumlinson, a Star of Texas board member.

The $6,000 premium bid by Tumlinson on behalf of his company, KST Electric, will benefit all four children in the Gerngross family.

Tumlinson knows what the auction proceeds mean to Tanner and the other kids whose animals KST bought.

“I showed when I was growing up. And my son [now 28] showed and won champion with hogs and broilers,” he says. “We think it is a very good cause and we continue to support it.”

He used the proceeds from his own stock show endeavors to attend college before he entered the construction business.

“I think that money helped to position me to go into business for myself,” he says.

Having a successful company means Tumlinson can afford to support livestock shows in a very meaningful way.

“Many major buyers spend a tremendous amount of money every year,” he says. “It is something they like and something they feel is a good cause because it puts money in the hands of kids.” FN

Millions for education

Texas’ junior livestock shows draw hopeful 4-H and FFA members from around the state, who hope to earn a place in the auction — and a hefty check. The biggest shows raise millions of dollars to support educational scholarships. In the last decade, junior stock shows have raised more than $110 million for education.

* Estimated Totals

Sources: San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Show 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011*
San Angelo $222,500 $264,600 $301,000 $312,000 $330,000 $388,000 $380,000 $408,000 $450,000 $453,000
Star of Texas $494,670 $387,949 $490,890 $546,176 $627,464 $643,679 $820,516 $642,659 $678,665 $800,125
Fort Worth $1,579,892 $1,876,303 $2,210,973 $2,277,152 $2,601,329 $2,750,698 $2,358,027 $2,364,987 $3,213,636 $3,485,418
San Antonio $2,919,747 $2,786,388 $2,815,180 $3,265,776 $3,441,295 $3,698,110 $3,735,188 $3,306,046 $3,551,689 $3,755,695
Houston $4,165,555 $3,944,718 $4,247,314 $3,826,028 $3,987,934 $4,613,194 $4,500,896 $4,316,882 $4,353,878 $4,526,050
Total $9,382,364 $9,259,957 $10,065,357 $10,227,132 $10,988,022 $12,093,681 $11,794,627 $11,038,574 $12,247,868 $13,020,288

* Estimated Totals

Sources: San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

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