MERCEDES — On a brisk Saturday morning students from across the Rio Grande Valley showed the animals they had been raising all year one final time at the RGV Livestock Show.
This weekend marked the end of the weeklong RGVLS, closing up with the much-anticipated Sale of Champions auctions. Students’ animals are awarded different designations, then those winning animals are auctioned to the highest bidder.
The animals strut through the stage as auctioneers announce bids at a rapid pace. Some students have been showing animals since they were in elementary school, but for many, this was their first time.
Gaby Gonzalez, a sophomore with Santa Rosa High School FFA, had never showed animals until this year. Her goat, Cole, won third place market goat.
“A lot of my friends were doing this so I decided to get a goat,” the 15-year-old said.
Gaby said a lot goes into taking care of animal. She has to clean its pen, bath it and make sure it gets enough exercise and nails down its posture.
“It was a little more work than I expected,” she said. Unlike some of the more experienced students, Gaby said letting go of her animal was going to be a bit difficult for her.
“This is my first year so I did get a little attached to him but I think the next time I won’t get so attached,” she said.
For Victor Romo, 18, of Weslaco CTE FFA, this was his first time showing cattle at the livestock show. His steer, Tango, won Breed Champion Steer.
“You learn a lot showing any animal,” he said, misting Tango before it went on stage for auction. “If it’s your first year you need to look for help and ask for help. Getting recommendations for feed and stuff … It’s a lot of trial and error and teamwork.”
The most awaited (and most valuable) auction is the Grand Champion Steer. This year, that award went to Logan Thomas, of Lyford FFA. Their steer sold for $22,000.
Danielle Rangel, a sophomore at Sharyland Pioneer High School, won Grand Champion Steer last year, with her steer selling for $21,000. This year, her steer, Buddy, won Reserve Champion.
“It would have been great to get grand champion again because that would’ve been two years in a row,” she said. “But it is what it is, (Thomas) had a really good steer.”
Rangel has been showing animals since she was 8 years old, but has been going to livestock shows since she can remember. She’s raised goats, pigs and heifers, but she mainly raises steers now.
“Raising animals teaches you a lot,” Danielle said. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication.”