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El Campo boy takes grand champion honors at Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo


March 12, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 11, 2013 at 10:12 p.m.

Zane Baker, center, poses with the buyers of his grand champion market turkey, Phalafel Phil. Zane's turkey brought in $110,000 at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's junior market poultry auction. He keeps $30,000 of those earnings and says he plans to put that money toward his college education.

From the months of preparation to the sheer number of competitors and battling preshow nerves, participating in a major livestock show is a massive undertaking.

But it's one El Campo resident Zane Baker gobbled up.

The 13-year-old took grand champion overall honors for his junior market turkey, Phalafel Phil, at the 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He sold the bird Friday for $110,000 to Fred and Linda Boas, Loren and Denise Fuhrman and Joe and Tanya Schindler at the show's junior market poultry auction, according to a livestock show news release.

Zane, an eighth-grader at St. Philip Catholic School, said the win was a nice surprise.

"It was amazing," he said Monday afternoon. "It wasn't expected."

Zane received Phalafel Phil, named after a favorite TV character, in October. In the months since, he said he made sure he had food and water and also kept it clean.

Still, caring for the bird was a family affair, said Melanie Baker, Zane's mother.

"It takes a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of commitment on all of our parts," she said, noting Brad Baker, Zane's dad, did his part, while their 10-year-old son, Jace Baker, also shows turkeys.

Zane's accomplishment was exciting, she said, but it wasn't his first time in the winner's circle.

Not only has he placed fourth and fifth in the Houston show, she said, but he has also taken grand champion at the Wharton County Youth Fair. A couple of weeks ago at the San Antonio show, he took 10th and 22nd place for his hen and tom.

"He's done exceptionally well," his mom said. "It's exciting."

The $30,000 Zane gets to keep from his winnings, which will go toward his education, he said. Although he does not yet know where he wants to attend college, he hopes to become an architect.

In the meantime, with the most recent show behind them and spring break under way, the family is taking time off at its Palacios bay house.

While Mom said she looks forward to the chance to relax, the work isn't over yet.

Zane and Jace plan to show turkeys at the Wharton County show April 28.

"They keep us busy," she said.



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