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66th annual Victoria Livestock Show kicks off

By ALLISON MILES
Feb. 29, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 29, 2012 at 9:01 p.m.

Jack Owens with Kactus Hats, of Fort Worth, styles a 1880 old west style Panama hat at the Victoria Community Center. The livestock show brings in numerous vendors who sell items from hats to funnel cakes. About $30,000 was raised for scholarship funds through the entry fees to the grounds.

If you go

WHAT: Victoria Livestock Show opening ceremonyWHERE: Victoria Community Center, 2905 E. North St.WHEN: Noon ThursdayFor more information, call 361-576-4300.

For more information on the Victoria Livestock Show, visit http://victorialivestockshow.net.

With carnival rides spinning, judges tabulating and farm animals kicking up a bit of dust, the Victoria Community Center will be a busy place for the next few days.

The 66th annual Victoria Livestock Show spans Thursday through Monday at 2905 E. North St.

The event typically draws about 20,000 people to the community center throughout its duration, said Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Some come in from out of town, buying gas and food in Victoria and even spending the night.

"And that is good for our local economy," he said. "It gives us the opportunity to showcase Victoria. To let them see what we have."

Area youth are the ones who see the real benefit, Vivian said.

The stock show offers them a chance to show the hard work they've put into their projects and to reap the benefits, either through money from the sale or experience.

"It shows them that hard work has a dividend at the end," Vivian said.

The stock show also offers benefits to area entrepreneurs who set up booths inside the dome, said Erwin Rother, who owns Victoria Hobby Shop. Not only do businesses get their names out there and let people know what they offer, but they might pick up a new customer or two.

Rother recalled an exhibitor a while back who visited his booth and vowed to come back for a remote-controlled helicopter if his hog placed in the show.

"And it did," Rother said with a chuckle. "He came back."

It isn't about the money, however.

Rother said the time and money invested into the booth doesn't make it a profitable venture. Instead, it's more about supporting the youth and providing a bit of entertainment, through demonstrations, flight simulations and more.

"We're in it for the youngsters," he said.

An Avon booth that sits alongside Rother's has had a home at the stock show for the past 15 or so years, said Randy Smith, who will man the booth with his daughter, Karen Smith, throughout the show.

In previous years, the booth included a prize wheel to spin and free makeovers for the little girls who wandered in, but this year's booth takes on a special mission - raising money for the fight against ALS.

Smith's wife, Avon representative Sophia Smith, was diagnosed with the disease a little more than a year ago and has already lost the ability to talk and walk. Although she will not be able to man the booth this year, special Avon necklaces will be available for sale, with proceeds benefiting ALS research.

"We can't beat the ALS in time to save her, but we can keep up the fight," he said.

Nick Rodriguez, the show's parade chair, echoed others, saying the children are the real winners at the event.

"It's good for them," he said, encouraging people to venture out to Monday's stock show auction. "It teaches them responsibility in raising their animals."

As far as preparation goes, Rodriguez on Wednesday afternoon said things were just about ready.

"It has been crazy, but everything is coming together like clockwork," he said. "We're ready to get after it."

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