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Demonstrations, education highlight 2013 South Texas Farm and Ranch Show

By ALLISON MILES
Oct. 23, 2013 at 5:23 a.m.
Updated Oct. 24, 2013 at 5:24 a.m.

Vendor booths completely filled the Community Center Dome area as a large crowd showed up for the opening day of the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show.

THURSDAY'S SCHEDULE

6:30 a.m.:

• Registration and breakfast sponsored by Capital Farm Credit, Port Lavaca Auto Group and Helena Chemical Co., Jaycee Hall

• Registration and breakfast sponsored by Dow Chemical Co. and South Texas Electric Cooperative, Annex 1, 2 and 3

7-10 a.m.:

• Cattlemen's College: Pasture Management, Jaycee Hall

8-10 a.m.:

• Maintaining Water Quality and Quantity, Annex 1 and 2

9 a.m.-2 p.m.:

• Pasture to Plate third-grade youth program, Jaycee Hall

10-11 a.m.:

• Pesticide Laws and Regulations, Annex 1 and 2

• Rainwater Harvesting, Annex 3

10 a.m.-5 p.m.:

• Exhibit booths open, Dome, Arena and Grounds

Noon-1 p.m.:

• Luncheon: "Are You Afraid to Eat?" with keynote speaker Jerry Parsons, Annex 1, 2 and 3

1:30-3 p.m.:

• Texas Superstars: Colorful Drought - Heat-tolerant Plants, Annex 3

2-3 p.m.:

• Integrated Pest Management, Annex 1 and 2

The forest green off-road vehicle didn't have it easy Wednesday.

Some people kicked at the heavy black tires or tested the shocks, rocking it back and forth. Still others climbed inside for a closer look.

But for Eric Mercer, who owns Velocity Powersports, that was OK.

"People are interested in what's new and how it benefits them," he said with a glance at the green Yamaha Viking, one of several vehicles he had on hand. "This has kind of been the showstopper."

Mercer was among the more than 100 vendors at the 2013 South Texas Farm and Ranch Show, which kicked off Wednesday inside the Victoria Community Center.

The two-day event offers Crossroads farmers and ranchers a look at the industry's latest products and equipment and includes training opportunities.

Mercer said he attends each year as a way to connect with customers and remind them what his shop has to offer.

"We have generators, and a lot of people don't remember that," he said. "We've got a good supply but a lot of times after these shows, I'll have to reorder because people are coming in."

Members of the Texas Farm Bureau worked to appeal to all audiences.

Not only did their booth include a knee-high sandbox for farmers in training, it also offered a display with products that wouldn't be around without agriculture, such as corn chips and blue jeans.

Yet another element was information about Proposition 6, which goes to vote in the November election. If it passes, it will authorize $2 billion to fund a 50-year state water plan.

"It will help everybody," said Janice Ohrt, a board member with the bureau who manned the booth Wednesday. "We've got to fight for our water rights."

Victoria County AgriLife Extension Agent Peter McGuill said he expected about 2,000 to 2,500 visitors to attend this year's event and said that Wednesday got off to a good start.

"We've had a big crowd this morning," he said after the lunch presentation. "It's been a great day, and (we're) looking forward to this afternoon, and then again tomorrow."

Bill and Pat Dyson, who maintain a few acres in Victoria and Jackson counties, said they attend the show annually to see what's new. This year, Dyson said, he was glad to see the parking lot full and new vendors.

"Let it grow," he said. "Let it get too large for this place. Maybe it will just keep getting bigger."

Dianne Odegard, public information and training coordinator with Austin-based Bat Conservation International, was among the new vendors on opening day.

Her organization decided to participate to educate people about bats' important role in agriculture, she said, noting they feed on crop pests.

And while some people ventured to the booth loaded with questions, others weren't so brave.

"There are some people who don't want to get within 10 feet of this table," she said with a laugh.

Tammy Brasher, another first-timer, co-owns Harley's House of Guns in Yoakum. The business got involved when they learned about the show from friends at a nearby booth when working a show in Houston.

So far, she said, it's gone well.

"We've had a lot of good feedback," she said, looking around her booth that featured a variety of nature blinds, deer attractant, gun rests and more. "This is the clientele we're looking for."

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