Texas show families give youth an alternative after Houston is cancelled
for Tri-State Livestock News
Full results for the BTHOCoronavirus Junior Heifer Show held March 12, 2020.
Supreme Champion: Miranda Skaggs (Simbrah)
Reserve Supreme: Mason Allan (Horned Hereford)
Third Overall: Lane Hagan (Simmental)
Exotic Division Champions:
Champion: Lyndsey Franklin
Reserve: Brayden Dennis
Champion: Will Spicer
Reserve: Arianna Rodriguez
Champion: Cayden Alexander
Reserve: Kylee Kelley
Champion: Harlie Groom
Reserve: Karsen Fuessel
Champion: Lane Hagan
Reserve: Aubree Blissard
Champion: Morgan Jackson
Reserve: Lane Alexander
Champion Exotic: Lane Hagan (Simmental)
Reserve Exotic: Morgan Jackson (ORB)
Judge: Harrison Smith
British Division Champions:
Champion: Kynan Demoss
Reserve: Bentley Zemanek
Champion: Mason Allan
Reserve: Maddie Byers
Champion: Brigham Kelley
Reserve: Keeley Warnken
Champion: Joeli Hardy
Reserve: Bella Peoples
Champion: Emilee Munchrath
Reserve: Emery Robertson
Champion British: Mason Allan (Horned Hereford)
Reserve British: Emilee Munchrath (Shorthorn)
Judge: Harrison Smith
American Division Champions:
Champion: Kason Ramirez
Reserve: Kirby Russell
Champion: Emma Hessler
Reserve: Carlyssa Borchert
Champion: McKenzie Moreland
Reserve: Callie Welty
Champion: Jessica Coleman
Reserve: Brian Carr
Champion: Avery Brooks
Reserve: Avery Brooks
Champion: Meghan Shirley
Reserve: Jenna Schaffer
Champion: Miranda Skaggs
Reserve: Camryn Skaggs
Champion: Abi Hooper
Reserve: Makenna Skinner
Champion American: Miranda Skaggs (simbrah)
Reserve American: McKenzie Moreland (grey Brahman)
Judge: Chad Oates
Yesterday’s Showmanship Results:
Champion: Morgan Jackson
Reserve: Kyla Kirk
Champion: Will Phillipelo
Reserve: Emilee Munchrath
Champion: Kimber Fuessel
Reserve: Natalee Hardin
Where there seemed to be disappointment and hopelessness, friends and volunteers filled the gap.
On March 11, at 1 pm, when officials from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo cancelled the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, livestock show exhibitors were crushed. After spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on show animals, there would be no show to showcase their animals.
But some local people stepped in.
Caroline and Brian Rogers were standing in line, waiting to get into the barns for the junior heifer show, with their registered Angus and Red Angus cattle, when the announcement came. Brian turned to his wife and half-jokingly said, “let’s have a show” at their place, BCR Ventures in Bryan, Texas, about 100 miles northwest of Houston.
And it happened.
Their daughter was working as an intern at Houston, helping stall heifers. She mentioned it and realized there was some interest in it.
So when the Rogers got home, they got to work.
Their hay barn, which is 125 x 85 foot and has no power, turned into the show ring. Friends and neighbors showed up, moving hay out of the barn, helping hook it up to a generator, donating light towers, a thirty-foot haul-off dumpster and extra panels and building a ring
The first animals showed up just a few hours after Houston canceled, heifers that hadn’t even been unloaded at the Houston show but who needed off the trailer to be watered.
All night long, trailers, cattle and people showed up, Caroline said. The Rogers have a thirty acre pasture near the hay barn that they had just moved cattle out of. It turned into the parking area for trailers and trucks, and neighbors offered their facilities as well. “We sent people all over the place,” she said.
They created a Facebook page to disseminate information, and Caroline got a message from someone who was a social media expert. “I’d love to help you,” was her message to Caroline. “She spiffed up (the page),” she said, adding a logo and more information.
Caroline also got a call from Lindsey Ives, a former livestock show exhibitor who lived in Bryan but had never met the Rogers family. “I love planning and organizing,” Ives said. “I asked (Caroline), do you have back numbers? Do you have a (computer) show program?” The answer was no, so Ives got busy. She made a spreadsheet program using the same format as Houston’s, and made back numbers. She gathered her laptop, printer, a portable table, and said, “I’ll be there in the morning.”
As kids checked in to the show, volunteers had them fill out entry forms and jot down their address. Ives added them to her spreadsheet and put them in the appropriate class.
Brian and Caroline didn’t know how many animals or exhibitors to expect. “We thought maybe we’ll have fifty head,” she said. Ives had made 120 back numbers.
The trucks and trailers rolled in all night long, into the wee morning hours of March 12. Rogers thinks the last back number she saw was number 451.
Donations poured in as prizes for the kids. The Rogers didn’t charge an entry fee and said if competitors chose to donate, their donations would go back to the kids. Caroline accepted donations via Paypal, and other prizes came in: buckles, banners, semen and embryo packages, boots, hats, show supplies, prizes for every class winner. “Someone even donated saltwater fishing trips for winners of the showmanship (contest) and their families,” she said.
A local feed store donated a show box and gift certificates. A local barbecue restaurant catered food for 250 and within a half hour, provided more food when the first load ran out.
And there were hundreds of volunteers, Rogers said, “people that I didn’t even know who they were, or where they came from. People saw (the event) on Facebook and wanted to come out and help.”
Ives remembers someone who came up to her and said, “I didn’t show cows and I don’t have cows, but I want to donate,” she said. “He asked, ‘who do I write a check to?’”
Judges for the show donated their time too, and pitched in to help in other areas as well. The region had received seven inches of rain the week prior, so after the show, one of the judges went to work pulling out trucks and trailers with a tractor.
“I jokingly said the word of the day is yes,” Rogers said. “Yes, that works, yes, we can make it happen, yes that’s fine, and it was.”
Rogers wasn’t worried about spreading the COVID-19 virus. The outside setting of the show, plus a smaller gathering of people compared to the Houston show, were two factors she considered. “Sunshine and fresh air out in the middle of a pasture is a pretty good spot” to avoid the virus, she said. “We were working with the information we had,” she said. “We weren’t going to have an event that had 2.5 million people through the gates,” referring to the Houston show.
Ives got to the show at 5 am on March 12 and didn’t quit her post till 11 pm that night, except for one bathroom break. Rogers figures she and her husband were up for more than 24 hours. “We did not sleep from the time we got up Wednesday morning till everybody left on Thursday.”
Being Texas A&M Aggie alumni, the Rogers named their show the BTHOCoronavirus. In the Aggie world, the BTHO acronym stands for “Beat the Heck Outta” and is used during the football season and for other events as well.
Miranda Skaggs was in line at the junior heifer show in Houston, waiting to unload her Simbrah heifers when the cancellation came in. As soon as the announcement was made, she and her dad turned the truck around to head home. “Everyone was looking forward to exhibiting,” the fifteen-year-old said. “It was really disappointing to have it cancelled because Houston is one of the largest shows in the nation.”
Her Simbrah heifer named Split won grand champion at the BTHOCoronavirus show. She loved the show. “It was amazing. They had so many people who stepped up and donated. I think it really had a big impact. All the seniors were able to exhibit their heifers one last time.”
Skaggs, who has shown at Houston six times, loved being part of the impromptu show. “It was touching to see how the community came together on such short notice and was supportive of the youth and ag industry.”
Rogers estimates $25,000 has been donated, and “it’s all going back” to the kids, she said.
She and her husband are grateful for living and working in the ag world. “We cannot tell you how blessed we are to be in the ag industry,” she said. “My husband had the hare-brained idea, but if it wasn’t for everyone who pitched in, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“People were beyond amazing,” she said, even picking up after themselves so well that only two five-gallon buckets of trash were found around the show ring and the pasture.
The generosity of people is not unusual in the agriculture world.
“The ag industry is a very selfless industry,” Ives said. “It’s not about money, it’s about family and community.”
Other alternate shows for steers and other species are being held throughout Texas, in response to the canceled shows at Houston.