SAN BENITO — Luke Garza struggled with his medium wool lamb in the arena as the judges looked over the animals.
It wasn’t easy. The stiff cold Saturday at Sonny Brazil Agricultural Science Complex had lit a fuse in many of the lambs, cattle, goats and hogs at show, making them difficult to manage.
“He’s kind of not in the best mood,” said Luke, a fifth grader at Elma E. Barrera Elementary School in Santa Rosa.
But Luke, 10, put everything he had into his presentation, and he got something back — first place in his division at the Sonny Brazil Classic Livestock Show.
“I just try to do my best and get what I can get from him,” he said. Then, looking at his lamb, added, “I feel pretty good about it.”
Ag students and 4-H kids from throughout the Valley converged on the show Saturday morning. The bold sun provided a welcome balance to the cold, which has been complicated in recent days by wet skies. The skies were clear Saturday, and a fresh energy permeated the air.
The hogs were especially agreeable to the cold air, said David Munoz, a 4-H advisor.
“Pigs don’t have sweat glands so they can’t cool off in the heat,” said Munoz, whose niece and nephew were showing hogs.
“I have two pigs, a dark cross and a Hampshire,” said Munoz’s nephew Jayden Castillo, a third grader at Stuart Place Elementary in Harlingen.
“I’ve been feeding them every morning and night and I walk them every day,” he said.
His sister Alyson, a seventh-grader at Vela Middle School, was showing a light cross hog.
“It’s a good experience,” said Alyson, 11, who has been showing for five years.
“You learn more about animals as you go,” she said.
The air Saturday was filled with the sounds of bleating goats and the smells of animal breath and wood shavings. A canteen nearby served hot coffee and breakfast tacos and hamburgers. The boom of judges’ voices added a sort of brisk seriousness to the event, a gesture of respect to the kids and their hard work.
This was the first livestock show for Kendra Lucero, 9, who was practicing with her goat under the tutelage of several older peers. More specifically, they were teaching her how to brace her goat, which means setting up the feet so the animal will flex it’s muscles.
Kendra appreciated their help.
“I am a little nervous, but I am excited,” said the third-grader from Edinburg.
While this was a new and challenging experience for Kendra, it was business as usual for kids like Clarissa Garza, 18, of Los Fresnos. She was leading a very energetic Beefmaster across the complex.
“I love it,” she said. “I have been doing this since third grade. This is my home, this is where I shine my brightest.”
Cash Martinez, 13, was showing six animals Saturday, and one of them had already won the Intermediate Showmanship event with his heifer.
“She showed good sportsmanship,” said the San Isidro seventh grader.
Cash credited his animal with being a little more composed than the others, and that’s from many months of practice. It also required a stoic discipline on his part.
“I wake up at 5:30 am every morning, feeding them and haying them,” he said.
This along with his participation in both athletic activities and academic competitions shows an admirable focus and maturity.
“I don’t know how I do it,” he said with a smile.
View Brownsville Herald photojournalist Denise Cathey’s full photo gallery here:
Photo Gallery: Kids show livestock animals at Sonny Brazil